The Ministry of Tourism, Environment, Heritage, Maritime and Gaming as part of its compliance with International Maritime Organization (IMO) III code, are required to review and address several gaps which have been identified by the United Kingdom Maritime and Coastguard Agency UK (MCA) Gap Analysis report.
To ensure compliance with its regulatory obligation have been tasked with the implementation of two key elements coming from the report; the development of a Maritime Policy and Five-Year Maritime Sector Strategy Plan.
The Ministry has made significant progress through the recruitment of a maritime consultant, in Mr. Brent Williamson. Mr. Williamson is currently on island to commence preliminary work, to date he has concluded several stakeholder meetings and critical review of key documents.
Mr. Williamson is a maritime professional with over 25 years’ experience in the maritime industry. His professional experience includes vessel operations, port management, accident investigation, legal review and drafting, arrest of ships, port state control, environmental protection, maritime training, domestic and international ship registration and international law of the sea. His professional career has involved working along with the Nassau Port Department, the Bahamas Maritime Authority, the United States Coast Guard, the International Maritime Organization, the Regional Activity Centre for Marine Pollution and Training and the International Ocean Institute. Mr. Williamson has drafted numerous contingency plans, policies and regulations concerning the maritime industry and represented The Bahamas at numerous international maritime conferences.
Minister of Tourism, Environment, Heritage, Maritime and Gaming, Hon. Ralph Higgs commented; “I am pleased to have Mr. Williamson professional expertise in this area, as we prepare for the 2020 International Maritime Organization audit. I look forward to the outcome of this consultancy and the impact it is planned to have on our Maritime Sector.”
Some of the key functions of the Maritime Department is to implement maritime laws, comply with the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974 (SOLAS), maintain the shipping registry where the Turks and Caicos Islands are listed as a category 2 under the Red Ensign Group for compliance with the III Code. In addition, the Turks and Caicos Islands also has the responsibility for Port State Control (PSC) and Flag State Control (FSC) for the inspection of foreign vessels in port as well as vessels registered in the jurisdiction.
Whilst on island, Mr. Williamson had the opportunity to meet with Premier Hon. Sharlene Cartwright Robinson, Hon. Ralph Higgs, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Tourism, Cherylann Jones, Deputy Permanent Secretary Ministry of Tourism, Stuart Taylor, Director (Actg.) Maritime, Henry Wilson and members of the Maritime Steering Committee ( key stakeholders in the review process).