Ministry of Transport and Communications of Finland to amend decrees on road ferries, manning of ships and certification of seafarers
On 17 March 2020, the Ministry of Transport and Communications sent draft decrees on road ferries, and on the manning of ships and certification of seafarers out for comments. Both amendments are based on the new Water Traffic Act, which will enter into force at the beginning of June. The aim is also to improve the overall safety of water transport.
Provisions on road ferries are laid down in the Act on the Transport System and Highways and in more detail in the decree on road ferries. However, the provisions on watercraft must be applied to ferry transport services, for example in terms of preventing a water transport collision, or of certifying watercraft crew.
The draft amendment on road ferries and cable ferries would update the decree to comply with the new Water Traffic Act.The new provisions concerning information entries on ferry services and prevention of collisions of ferries with other watercraft are more specific than the current regulation.
At the same time, the part in the Decree concerning the competent authorities would be amended to comply with the present structure of the Ministry’s administrative branch as well as the new Water Transport Act. In practice, this means that some of the tasks related to road ferries would be transferred from the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency to the Transport and Communications Agency.
The Ministry's aim in amending the Decree on the manning of ships and certification of seafarers is to speed up the process of achieving professional qualifications and to facilitate the employment and business activities of water transport workers.
In the draft amendment, the Ministry proposes that the opportunities for training in the maritime sector be increased and the issuance of certificates for additional qualifications facilitated.The Ministry also proposes that no maritime qualifications be required from people working temporarily on board, like performing artists or people carrying out inspection, maintenance or pilotage duties.
The Decree would also amend the qualifications required from the operator of a rental boat. By virtue of the new Water Traffic Act, inspection requirements for rental boats as well as the separate structural and equipment requirements will be abolished. However, the qualification requirements for professional operators of these types of boats, such as taxi boat operators, will remain in force, but they need to be specified.
In future, the requirements for a boatmaster’s certificate for a rental boat would also include the knowledge of the Maritime Act, international regulations for preventing collisions at sea , and the Water Traffic Act.
The new Water Traffic Act will enter into force on 1 June 2020. It will include all the rules governing water transport and the principles for waterway traffic control.
The consultation period concerning the proposed amendments on road ferries
and on the manning of ships and certification of seafarers will end on 14 April 2020.
The requests for opinions are available online at www.lausuntopalvelu.fi.
Comments may be submitted by all organisations and private individuals.
Following the consultation round, the preparations for amending the decrees will continue by Ministry officials. The aim is for the amendments to enter into force on 1 June 2020, at the same time with the new Water Traffic Act.