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Merchant Shipping Bill 2016: All You Need To Know

Published on Wednesday, March 29, 2017


The cabinet sanctioned a new Merchant Shipping Bill, 2016. It provides for canceling of the Merchant Shipping Act 1958, as well as the coasting vessels Act, 1838.

Important Features of Bill

Growth of Indian tonnage promotion
  • Permitting substantially owned vessels to be registered as Indian Flag vessels. 
  • Recognising Indian controlled tonnage as a separate category. 
Growth of coastal shipping in India by
  • Dispensing with the requirement for issuing of licenses to Indian Flag vessels for coastal operation & for port clearance by the customs authorities & 
  • Making distinct rules for coastal vessels to develop & promote coastal shipping. 
Introduction of welfare measure for seafarers such as:
  • Seafarers held in captivity of pirates will receive wage till they are released & reach home back safely. 
  • Registration of certain residuary category of vessels not covered under any statue & to make provisions for security related aspects. 
Incorporation of all International Maritime Organization (IMO) protocols. Conventions/Protocols given below,
  • The Intervention Convention 1969, 
  • The search & rescue convention 1979 
  • The protocol for prevention of pollution from ships annex VI to Marine pollution convention, 
  • The convention for Control & Management of Ships-Ballast water & Sediments, 2004 
  • The Nairobi Wreck Removal Convention, 2007 
  • The Salvage Convention 1989 
  • The International Convention for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, 2001 
The Coasting Vessels Act 1838
The Coasting Vessels Act 1838, which is an archaic legislation of the British era for registration of non-mechanically propelled vessels to a limited jurisdiction of Saurashtra & Kutch, is proposed to be repealed since in the Merchant Shipping Bill 2016 requirements have been introduced for registration of all vessels for the whole of India.


  • Requirements of the Bill will simplify the law governing merchant shipping in India & will help India’s Sagarmala project & development of coastal Economic Zones. 
  • Redundant provisions will be dispensed with & the remaining provisions will stand consolidated & simplified so as to promote ease of doing business.
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