Limited effect for the Falklands of Argentina’s latest ban on Red Ensign vessels
The Buenos Aires Province Senate on 2 August passed a law last week banning British flagged vessels associated with activities in Falkland Islands waters from calling at Argentina’s largest ports.
“This law is a tool in place to continue advancing step-by-step in the fight for sovereignty of natural resources in the Malvinas Islands” lawmaker Patricia Cubria said on support of the bill.
But, Falklands Marine Officer Captain Malcolm Jamieson speaking to Penguin News said banning some of the safest and cleanest ships in the world from ports, “flies in the face of international attempts at improving safety at sea, exposing the decision as largely irresponsible from a safety and pollution prevention point of view.”
Capt Jamieson said the Red Ensign was synonymous with maintaining standards and the Red Ensign “brand” was recognised within shipping circles as being one of the most trusted and respected flags to register a ship under.
“Ship owners are generally attracted to Red Ensign registries as any ship flying the ‘red duster’ is recognised as a well run and safe ship. This in turn facilitates trade internationally by a ship not being liable to be hindered or delayed by port state inspections or other related problems. Indeed, the UK fleet in particular is currently ranked fourth best in the world in terms of safety, pollution prevention and working and living conditions and currently amounts to around 1,500 ships” he told Penguin News.
“A ship owner does not normally have to be concerned with another country’s politics unless during periods of war, threats of terrorism or some other security issue. Therefore, a ship flying a Red Ensign that may go to Argentine ports is a concern to the ship owner who only wants his ship to travel freely without hindrance as per International Conventions as this is how he earns his money,” explained Capt Jamieson.
Some ship owners have side tracked this problem already by leaving the UK Registry and there is a risk that this may get worse, he added.
“Ironically, the Falklands should not be affected too much by this latest development. It remains to be seen if the latest ‘law’ passed by Argentina is enforced or indeed legally enforceable and who is going to be affected most in the long run,” said Capt Jamieson.
The first in a spate of Argentine government attempts to create problems for shipping related to the Falklands came about in 2010 with the issue of Presidential Decree 256/2010 that required, “authorisation” for vessels travelling to or from the Falklands and South Georgia.
The UK firmly rejected the legality of the Decree but this was followed in December 2011 with a decision by Mercosur to deny access to member ports for ships flying the “defaced” Red Ensign of the Falklands.
The UK response was made by the Foreign Secretary in January 2012 pointing out that this decision had no basis in international law and amounted to an economic blockade of the Falklands. (PN).-