Over fifty delegates from British territories and dependencies participated in the Red Ensign Group annual conference in the Falklands this week. The Red Ensign Group (*) brings together 13 shipping registers whose vessels are entitled to fly British merchant navy flag or Red Ensign. The group aims to ensure that quality standards in shipping are upheld across the territories whose ships fly the Red Ensign.
Speaking to the press this week, Red Ensign Conference chair Katy Ware said the main focus will be the upcoming audit by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), “we will need to demonstrate that we are complying with the rules and regulations as a flag state, a port state, and a coastal state.
“One of the most challenging part of preparing that is the coastal state aspect, the whole environmental protection, if there’s an incident, how do we clean up, how do we resolve it. I think that conversation is really critical at the moment, and to be somewhere like the Falkland Islands, to see your beautiful coastline, your beautiful wildlife, it’s an amazing place to see how important the coastal state aspect really is”.
Asked about how the Group balances each territory’s different needs and resources, Ms Ware said that while everything the Red Ensign Group does is underpinned by safety and protecting the environment, the group is mindful of diversity of needs across the territories.
Ms Ware also said that the Group’s role is a supporting one, “we’re not there to do it to [the territories], or do it for them; we support them to enable them so that they can do what is right for them ... We must be really mindful of their social needs,” she said.
Looking to the future, Ms Ware said one of the main challenges facing the Red Ensign Group will be how to decarbonize shipping and meeting UNFCCC goals and commitments: “That’s going to be a really interesting one for us to tackle,” she said, adding “some of us will look at it purely from operating a commercial flag: what technologies and innovation we need to drive down and decarbonize.
However, some of our members, their lifeline is the ship that comes in once a week and delivers food and spare parts and whatever else. That’s going to be a really complex one for us to manage and move forward. But we have to do it.” (Penguin News)
(*) The Red Ensign Group (REG) is a group of British shipping registers.
The registers are operated by:
• the UK
• the Crown Dependencies (Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey)
• UK Overseas Territories (Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands; Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar; Montserrat, St Helena, Turks & Caicos Islands)
Any vessel on these registers is a ‘British ship’, and is entitled to fly the British Merchant Shipping flag the ‘Red Ensign’ (or a version of it defaced with the appropriate national color).