PANAMA----January 6, 2023--- Panama’s Ministry of the Presidency has issued Executive Decree 245 of 21 November 22, that orders immediate removal from the Panama Ship Registry of vessels for which the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP)'s Directorate General of Merchant Marine has reasonable grounds to consider they are linked to Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported Fishing activities (IUU), to comply with Panama's commitments under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The measures are:
- Cancellation of vessels for which the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP)’ s Directorate General of Merchant Marine (DGMM) has reasonable grounds to consider the vessel, its owner, owner, operator, charterer, charterer, captain, beneficial owner, or any other natural or legal person related to it, have carried out illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities or have made a transfer, relationship, association and/or connection with vessels, natural or legal persons related to these illegal activities.
- Annul the International Service Navigation Patent and any document related to navigation issued by the DGMM.
- Deny any procedure that is in process at the Panama Maritime Authority and consequently, it will not be possible to request the issuance of any document for such vessels, either during the cancellation process or after their definitive cancellation from Panama’s Merchant Marine.
- Panama-flagged vessels for which the DGMM of the Panama Maritime Authority has reasonable grounds to consider they have incurred in IUU activities, will be cancelled immediately.
- If the vessel subject to cancellation based on this Executive Decree, has one or more mortgages registered in the Panama Maritime Authority’s General Directorate of Public Registry of Ship Ownership, the Directorate General of Merchant Marine (Panama Ship Registry) shall give notice by the means, to proceed with the cancellation of these.
- The cancellation resolution issued based on this Executive Decree, shall be immediately notified to the resident agent of the vessel, owner, owner, owner, operator, charterer, charterer, master, beneficial owner, or any other natural or legal person related to the same, by written communication by email, or any other electronic means, to the physical address, post office box or email address that appears in the Directorate General of Merchant Marine.
This mechanism or legal instrument was necessary to strengthen the performance of the Panama Ship Registry and is in line with the actions already implemented in relation to due diligence, purging of the registry, and compliance of the Panamanian fleet, said Rafael Cigarruista, director general of the Merchant Marine.
The Decree explicitly prohibits the following:
- The registration in the Merchant Marine of the Republic of Panama of vessels linked to INDNR.
- SHIP TO SHIP (STS) transfers to or from Panama-flagged vessels with vessels that have had their registrations cancelled by Panama’s Merchant Marine Directorate for being linked to Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported Fishing activities (IUU).
- To the owners, operators, charterers, charterers, captains, and crew of Panama- flagged vessels, the carrying out of trade acts through Panama-flagged vessels and any other transactions, directly or indirectly with vessels, for being linked to Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing activities (IUU).
- Panamanian nationals, persons subject to Panamanian jurisdiction and entities incorporated to entities subject to Panamanian jurisdiction, to conduct or support business with vessels that have had their registrations cancelled by the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP)’s Directorate of Merchant Marine.
The Executive Decree highlights that the Aquatic Resources Authority of Panama (ARAP) is the State’s governing body to ensure compliance and enforcement of national fisheries and aquaculture laws and policies, and establishes among its functions, to regulate, promote and implement technical and administrative measures and processes for the rational, sustainable and responsible use of aquatic resources.
The ARAP’s Administrator, Ms Flor Torrijos, said the decree is in line with the policy of President Laurentino Cortizo of "zero tolerance for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing". "The objective is to clean the registry of those vessels identified as violators or those belonging to economic groups of vessels described as INDRN," Ms Torrijos said.
With the enactment of Executive Decree N° 245 of 21 November 2022, the Panamanian Government confirms its commitment to be a guarantor of the State policy of Zero Tolerance to Unreported and Unregulated fishing.