Home » Maritime » Phase out of wooden-hull ships will have to wait

THE Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) has deferred implementation of the policy on gradual phase-out of wooden-hulled vessels plying domestic routes following strong lobby from various shipping operators nationwide.

The operators claim the policy will idle many domestic shipping operations. Wooden-hulled vessels comprise 60% of the domestic maritime fleet.

A total of 252 shipping operators lobbied for the repeal of Memorandum Circular 190 or the policy covering the gradual phase-out of wooden-hulled vessels in the domestic trade, according to MARINA administrator Atty. Oscar M. Sevilla. "Although we like it very much to continue, the reality is that the maritime industry is rooted in the operation of these small vessels. They comprise a large chunk of the industry, thus making (implementation) quite impossible," he said.

The Cebu-based Visayan Association of Ferryboats and Coastwise Service Operators, one of the largest associations of shipowners operating wooden-hulled ships, claimed many shipowners may have to close unless the government provides affordable financing for the purchase of steel-hulled ships.

The phase out of wooden-hulled vessels was ordered by President Gloria Arroyo following a series of marine accidents involving such vessels.

Under the phase-out rules, wooden-hulled vessels with over 100 to 500 gross tonnage (GT) will be allowed to operate only until 2006, those with 35 to 100 GT until 2008, and 3 to 35 GT scrapped by 2010.

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