Red Ensign Group Conference to look at challenges of maritime

Dealing with the challenges of maritime and coastal state responsibilities are coming under the spotlight at the annual Red Ensign Group (REG) Conference.

Challenges of the sector include environmental and coastal concerns, commercial competition, and growing individual flags in an often difficult market. The conference which oversees and upholds maritime safety standards across the thirteen British Shipping Registers is meeting in the Falkland Islands to discuss best practice and to look at ways of improving the performance of the British Registers internationally.

Red Ensign Group members from right across the world will be meeting to discuss maritime matters of interest at the event being held in Stanley. It will also include sessions on the roles and responsibility of Coastal States in terms of vessel traffic management and Port State Control.

The event which was first held 32 years ago, has also grown to include business strategy, policy and safety matters.

A Red Ensign will fly over Stanley for the duration of the conference which begins formally today (4 February) with an opening ceremony attended by the Governor, His Excellency Nigel Phillips CBE and the Hon Teslyn Barkman, Member of the Legislative Assembly.

Katy Ware, Director of Maritime Safety and Standards at the Maritime & Coastguard Agency and the UK’s Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization is chairing the event. She said: ‘The Red Ensign Group Conference faces the same challenges as the rest of industry and other Flag states. The difference for us is that as a Group we can be and we are stronger together to tackle those challenges.

'The next few days will see us work through those matters of regulation related to flag, port and coastal state responsibility that give us our status as a leading maritime player across the world.’

Captain Chris Locke, the Falkland Islands Government Marine Officer and Harbour Master said: ‘This is a great opportunity for us to showcase not just our maritime work but our beautiful islands. We have some incredible coastline and wildlife but with that comes a serious responsibility to care for it which is where our maritime and coastal work comes in.’

The REG conference began in 1988 as an opportunity for the registrars of the REG to get together to share ideas, harmonise processes and discuss ways forward.

Since then it’s been held every year at different locations, reflecting the geography of the Red Ensign Group which consists of the UK, the Crown Dependencies of Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man and Overseas Territories of Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, St Helena, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The 32nd Red Ensign Group Conference will be held from 4 to 6 February.