Comments invited on the proposal for the Vessel Traffic Service Act
The Ministry of Transport and Communications requests comments on the draft government proposal for the Vessel Traffic Service Act and for certain other acts.
The draft proposal provides for enacting a new Vessel Traffic Service Act, which would repeal and replace the current Vessel Traffic Service Act. The proposal specifies the responsibilities and obligations of public authorities and the provider of vessel traffic services (VTS). The proposed Act would also reform provisions on training and qualifications for vessel traffic services in keeping with international regulatory developments and the Act’s systematic structure and terminology.
Furthermore, the proposal puts forward amendments to the Act on the Technical Safety and Safe Operation of Ships, the Ship Safety Control Act, the Act on the Lists of Persons on Passenger Ships, and the Act on Environmental Protection in Maritime Transport.
Expanded scope of the Vessel Traffic Service Act proposed
The scope of the proposed new Act would not limit the types of vessels obliged to participate in vessel traffic services. Exceptions include the vessels of the Finnish Defence Forces, the Finnish Border Guard or other public authorities not used for commercial purposes. Rather than the vessel’s intended use, the obligation to participate in vessel traffic services would be determined by the length of vessels or integrated tug-barge combinations. This means that, moving forward, vessels such as fishing vessels and tugs of 24 metres in length or over would also have to participate in vessel traffic services.
Broader powers for serious incidents
The right of the VTS provider to temporarily manage vessel traffic in exceptional circumstances and the right to prohibit of the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom would be extended to cover management or prohibition due to a serious threat or a serious incident under normal conditions.
Responsibilities of authorities would remain mainly unchanged
The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency would be assigned new responsibility for organising the maintenance of and supervision of compliance with routing systems and mandatory reporting systems in international waters adjacent to a VTS area. The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency could also authorise software service providers to perform conformity tests on equipment related to the long-range ship identification and tracking system.
The entry into force of the proposed Act would entail repealing the Government Decree on Vessel Traffic Service and transferring its provisions to the Vessel Traffic Service Act and to regulations issued by the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency.
The deadline for comments on the draft proposal is 31 August 2022. Organisations and private individuals are invited to comment online at www.lausuntopalvelu.fi. Following this consultation round, the Ministry’s officials will continue the legislative drafting process.
The aim is for the legislative amendments to enter into force at the beginning of 2023.
Suvi Kankare, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 50 478 4743, email@example.com