Regulation for the Organization of Maritime Navigation

The Council of Ministers has recently approved the Royal Decree that approves the Regulation for the Organization of Maritime Navigation to modernize the regime of ship navigation that transits through the maritime spaces in which Spain exercises sovereignty, sovereign rights, or jurisdiction, published in the BOE No. 69, on March 22, and which will come into force 20 days after its publication.

The main objective of the Regulation is to improve maritime safety and environmental protection and simplify bureaucracy through electronic applications that facilitate the procedures required of shipping companies to carry out their activities at sea. To this end, it repeals and modifies various ministerial orders and modifies both Royal Decree 1027/1989, on flagging, registration of ships, and maritime registration, and Royal Decree 685/2010, which regulates the granting of temporary navigation permits for certain recreational vessels.

It regulates in detail the clearance of ships, enrollment, introducing improvements in the procedures that ship owners must perform when applying for clearance, and the enrollment and unrolling of crews. With the new regulation, and in general terms, the clearance of the ship – necessary before embarking on a voyage – and the authorization for embarkation and disembarkation of the crew are granted through a responsible declaration and the submission of documentation by the shipowner, although the maritime administration will later have to supervise it.

The Regulation also regulates the authorization of entry and stay of ships and boats in Spanish maritime spaces and operations outside of limits, which implies that ships carrying dangerous goods or representing a potential danger (being damaged, requesting assistance or refuge, etc.) will need an express authorization to navigate through Spanish waters.

Likewise, the so-called operations outside of limits are regulated in the Regulation, which is defined as operations carried out by a civil ship or boat in maritime interior waters or territorial waters, outside the waters of the port service area, without anchoring and which consist of receiving one or more ships or boats, helicopters or drones to provide one or more services, such as the provision of food, supplies, spare parts or other materials, the delivery of parts or equipment, the transfer of crew members and people not belonging to the crew or passengers.

By the Regulation, operations outside of limits do not allow for the transfer of cargo, the transfer, supply, or pumping of fuels, or any other substance, and major repairs.

The Maritime Captains, dependent on the General Directorate of the Merchant Marine (DGMM), may adopt measures to prevent the risks that ships may represent and expel them from Spanish maritime spaces under certain circumstances.

The Regulation also contains a detailed regulation on the measures applicable to transiting ships that discharge pollutants in Spanish maritime spaces, as well as on collaboration with other States regarding pollutant discharges.

Special mention should also be made of the Regulation’s regulation of anchoring and interruption of navigation in maritime interior waters and territorial waters, including the requirements for the authorization of anchoring of tankers or other vessels transporting substances harmful to the marine environment.

Likewise, the Regulation contains a detailed regulation on administrative infringements and sanctions, completing the framework of sanctions established in the Consolidated Text of the State Ports and Merchant Marine Law, approved by Legislative Royal Decree 2/2011.