Wednesday, March 24. VISR Director Captain Baboucar Sallah met recently with Director of the Virgin Islands Charter Yacht League Mr. Erik Ackerson who travelled from St. Thomas for the meeting, seeking clarification on certain specific aspects of the regulations. – The Virgin Islands Shipping Registry (VISR) is continuing its series of discussion with industry stakeholders on the Merchant Shipping (Safety of Commercial Sailing and Motor Vessels) Regulations, 2004, which seek to ensure a safe and uniform standard of operation for small commercial vessels in the Territory’s waters.

Speaking in a GIS Radio Report following the meeting, Captain Sallah said the regulations came into force since 2004 and VISR is now trying to create a greater level of compliance to create a “uniform safety environment throughout the BVI waters”.

He stated, “In the shipping registry, we operate on a philosophy of compliance. What we are trying to do is to make boat operators realise that they have a responsibility on account of the kind of business that they are conducting to comply with safety regulations that are designed to ensure not only the safety of their business but the safety of the clientele.”

Captain Sallah further stated, “We in the shipping registry consider it our responsibility and our duty to help the operators into compliance and we have been doing just that. In that process the establishment of communication links become very pivotal.” The VISR Director has recommended that regular meetings be held to discuss common issues and exchanges ideas.

Underscoring the need for ongoing discussions, Captain Sallah said, “The regulations are there and it is my job to find out within the purview of the regulations, what we can do when we receive particular representation about a particular issue within the regulations.” He added, “Every good regulation will have provisions to allow for representations that are made, because there are no laws that are cast in stone; every good regulation, every good law have provisions for modification of certain principles or requirements.”

Commending the VISR for its efficient operations, Mr. Ackerson explained that he came seeking clarity and he is quite happy with the outcome of the talks and the proposal for ongoing discussions. He told the Department of Information and Public Relations, “When there is lack of communication or lack of accurate communication, human beings tend to interpret things incorrectly and they might hear something wrong and go with that as fact. We had several questions that Captain Sallah and his staff were more than helpful with. I am very confident that going back and speaking with our marine community in all four of our islands that we can now assist boaters who are coming over.”
The Virgin Islands Charter Yacht League official said “It behooves us and it is in our best interest to know exactly what the regulations are. There are no interpretations of regulations. Captain Sallah has been more than fair in taking a realistic approach and applying it to our geographic location and I think that is something that is more than fair.”

Some of the requirements in the Merchant Shipping (Safety of Commercial Sailing and Motor Vessels) Regulations, 2004 were also the subject of discussion at a recent public meeting in Virgin Gorda where Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal, OBE, along with VISR officials, met with boat captains and other marine industry representatives to hear their concerns.
The VISR is the Government agency responsible for implementing the maritime policies including shipping operations and safety of life at sea.

VISR Director Captain Baboucar Sallah and Director of the Virgin Islands Charter Yacht League Mr. Erik Ackerson. Photo Credit: Philomena Robertson/ GIS