Friday, November 29, 2013

Not a country for entrepreneurs

He came back from the METS 2013 holding his head proudly up. He managed to attract the attention in the biggest professional nautical fair in the world with a product he has developed himself. To get this far on his business career has taken him various years of hard work, some brush ups with the administration and a great deal of effort to walk alone the road of entrepreneurship. “In Spain there is no public support for entrepreneurs, nor for innovation, I had to go on my own to develop the product”, says Carlos Juliá, the creator of Moormeds. Juliá is a person with a vast experience in the nautical sector. With his business acumen he picked on a necessity amongst the boat owners: how to safeguard the electrical cables of a boat in an organized manner while avoiding any damage by water? And with a reasonable price tag, as in these times nobody can afford spending money lightly.

To endeavour is not foreign to Carlos Juliá. Few years ago he left the family business to start on his own. The unemployment benefit he received when leaving his old work, he invested in the creation of Medribs, a company that manufactures inflatable boats in China, sold in Spain through Decathlon. It was a good practice that helped him to start up his new project – Moormeds, covers that can be installed in minutes and that can be adapted to any kind of boat in any port, and that protect the electrical cables in an organized manner, lengthening their useful life and preventing  possible accidents. It is a known fact that electricity and water are no good together.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Draft of Law of Maritime Navigation is approved

The Council of Ministers has approved this Friday the Draft of Law of Maritime Navigation, which puts an end to the contradictions between the international agreements and the Spanish normative hailing back from the last century. Amongst other issues, the law determines the responsibility of those involved in marine traffic, establishes measures to avoid marine pollution and illegal immigration, details the public liability in case of an accident, and improves the protection of the Spanish underwater heritage.

Thus this Draft of Law, which was presented in its preliminary form by the Minister of Justice Alberto Ruiz Gallardón to the Council of Ministers a year ago, updates the legislation regarding the sector of the navigation, standardises the legal system according to the International Maritime Law, provides legal certainty and reflects the current reality of the maritime transport. Additionally, it regulates the contracts for the use of the ships, fixes the conditions of the naval construction contracts and adds new elements to the sales contracts of the ships.

In particular, with accidents in mind, the text states that the “most important” tool against the contamination of the seas is the prevention, therefore it sets some restrictions for the reasons of security and maritime protection, like a better control of the ships that show serious deficiencies and risks for navigation, and specification of shelters in case of emergencies.

Besides, the regulation of the accidents will be carried out by referring to the agreements that rule these issues, in cases of boarding, serious malfunction, rescue, shipwrecked or sunken goods and public liability for contamination.

When it comes to public liability for contamination, the Draft of Law points out this is supplementary and additional to the rules specified in the International Agreement over public liability in case of damages due to contamination by hydrocarbon oils, of 1992 (CLC), in the International Agreement over constitution of an international fund for compensation of damages due to contamination by hydrocarbon oils (FUND) and in the International Agreement  over public liability for damages due to contamination by hydrocarbon oils for fuel of the ships (BUNKERS 2001). In other words, the law will regulate only the cases, where the above mentioned agreements are not applicable.

Likewise, the aplication of the limitation is guaranteed  regardless of the legal proceedings (civil, criminal, contentious-administrative) used to demand responsibility, including if responsibility is sought via the administrative route. This way, the responsibility for contamination is guaranteed. The rules of responsibility considered in the International Agreements are tied in the future Law to a specific legal process, in which the subject that seeks to take advantage of these rules, has a duty to set up in advance a limitation fund to guarantee the payment of corresponding compensations.

It should be clarified that the administrative responsibilities are regulated in the combined text of the Law of the State Ports and the Merchant Navy, while the criminal responsibilities are collected in the article 325 of the Penal Code, which categorizes the acts of contamination of the seas, including when they happen at sea.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Abandoned vessels - ANEN and FEADPT jointly demand solutions from the Administration

What to do with the abandoned boats in the ports? Their number is on the increase, and it is estimated that around 15.000 vessels in both marinas and ashore can be classified as abandoned.

The management and the technical personnel of the ports lack means and administrative/legislative support to deal with the situation which,  apart from giving a regrettable image towards the marina users and nautical tourists, can also be a security risk for the port.

Currently there is no legal framework that would effectively and swiftly regulate the removal and recycling of obsolete recreational yachts, as the valid procedures are tedious and don´t offer efficient solutions. This leads a yacht owner without ways and means to deal with the situation to opt for an abandonment of the vessel.

With this in mind, the National Association of Nautical Enterprises (ANEN) and the Spanish Federation of Associations of Tourist Marinas (FEAPDT) have joined forces to request urgent measures to deal with this alarming situation.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The start of the legislative process to update the nautical qualifications

The DGMM has recently forwarded to the concerned parties the text with a proposal for the future Ministerial Order that will regulate the qualifications to navigate recreational vessels. From now on, and once any possible allegations has been collected, the project will continue the legal process until it´s entry into force.

For Carlos Sanlorenzo, the general secretary of  ANEN, “updating  and specifying the designations of our nautical qualifications has been a pending issue since the constitution of ANEN. We were light years behind the European legislation that controls this area of the nautical sector, a factor that has slowed down the progress of the sector. We made DGMM aware of this, and they listened to us. It is a positive result after a huge effort and a lot of work together, which is now entering in the final stages of the legislative process”.

“ From the very first meetings between the DGMM team and ANEN, since my appoitment as the general secretary, it was clear that this was one of the measures required for the recreational yachting to continue developing as a sector, and to contribute to the improvement of other sectors, like the tourism to which it is very closely linked. With this in mind we´ll continue developing the new normative”, assures the director general of the Merchant Navy, Rafael Rodriguez Valero.

The new regulations will allow navigation up to 5 miles without a formal qualification

The new recreational yachting legislation will allow navigation without any kind of formal qualification in daytime on boats up to 4 m of length, as long as they don´t sail further than 5 miles from a safe port or anchorage, pending on the approval of the Ministerial Order remitted this Wednesday to all sides of the industry.

This is the first of the nine modifications presented in the proposal, taking into account the majority of the measures recommended by the National Association of the Nautical Enterprises (ANEN) and agreed with the Administration.

However, this organism will submit the proposal for a study in order to add some improvements "to help the normative to be a motor of reactivation for the nautical sector".

With this new legislative update, motor boats with a maximum power of 11,03 KW (15CV) and up to 4 m of length, or 5 m in question of sailing boats, can navigate further than the areas delimited by the harbour authority, as has been the case so far.

From now on, and as soon as the Direction General of the Merchant navy (DGMM) has dealt with any possible allegations, the legislative process continues its course until entry into force.

For the general secretary of ANEN, Carlos Sanlorenzo, updating the nautical qualifications has been "a pending issue since the constitution of the Association".

Friday, November 15, 2013

STP fully booked until April

The start of the refit and maintenance season for the superyachts looks promising. According to the estimates by the companies working in STP, there are around 100 boats doing repairs and refits at the moment in the yard, and full occupancy is expected until march/april. Besides, the recent elimination of the matriculation tax on charter boats is likely to attract more boats to the Balearic Island, which will benefit the marinas and boat yards.

Joan Rosselló, the manager of STP, explains that the growth is noticeable above all in the category of boats above 30 meters of length. On top of that, "an increasing number of European top level boat builders, like Oyster, Swan and Baltic, establish a base in Mallorca, with a purpose to offer direct after sales service to their clients", he states.

There is a total of over 400 companies authorized by the Balearic Port Authority to work in STP, where the average length of boat is 27 m on hard stand and 36 m in berths. When it comes to the boat profile, Rosselló points out that "we have noticed an increase in the average length and also in the number of sailing boats. Currently the sailing boats count for between 60 and 70 percent of the total, thanks to the keel pits and the space".

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fiscal approximation between ports?

The president of the Port Authority, Alberto Pons justifies the differences between the rates paid by the marinas controlled by the Government through the Ports de Balears and those that depend directly from the State and are controlled by the Balearic Port Authority (APB). On Thursday the two port institutions had a meeting to address, amongst other questions, a possible legislative and fiscal equalization.

"I appreciate that it is in our interest to bring the two institutions closer", he assured, and in continuation expanded that "for better or for worse, the marinas and the yacht clubs that are located in the ports of general interest, are interesting for the recreational yachting, and that, according to the laws of the market, has a value". He states that in the Balearics, the market has set the rates. "The Port Authority specifies the maximum tariffs for the tenders, but from there on the market determines whether further rates are being paid. As I believe in the private initiative and in the market, which have shown to be the formula of success for the APB, I understand we are on the right track", he reasons.

He maintains that "each club is a world apart, and things can´t be forced". According to the president, the concept of Ibiza can´t be transported to Mahon " because it is a question of culture, inertias , port structures, synergies and the services offered by the city where the port is located".

Read article in Diario de Ibiza.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Port Authority takes a stand against its old top management and reduces the rank of the indicted Matias

The tsunami of changes in the management of the Balearic Port Authority (APB) continues. Barely a month since Alberto Pons took over from the navy commander José María Urrutia, the power structure  changes in the heart of one of the most strategic public institutions of the islands, which employs over 300 public servants and moves over 60 million euros annually.

Yesterday the new presidency raised up to the Administrative Council the first set of fundamental changes in the hierarchy of the APB by substituting at a stroke the two chief executives of the Ports. One of them is the most influential, high ranking public servant of the recent decades who created new internal departments without employing new staff, with the purpose of keeping control of the public assignments - always a lucrative business around the port concessions.

To start with, the new presidency replaces the two top brass, who theoretically occupied the second level on the corporate ladder, but in reality had over the years accumulated a crucial weight within the institution. The until recently area manager and a historical ex-director of the entity, the engineer Ángel Matías, who was indicted in a scandal related to supposed tampering with public assignments that the Public Anti-corruption Prosecutor is investigating (the Mar Blau case), will leave his seat to occupy the charge of Control of Works, where he will have a lot less power. On the other hand, the other of the area managers, Jorge Martín, Matías´right hand man, will also leave his seat to take over the area of Innovation and Quality. As with Matías, it is a charge of lower rank. The two vacant seats in the area management will be assigned to Fernando Berenguer and to the trusted man Juan Carlos Plaza, who came to the direction of APB straight after the appointment of Pons.

Read the complete article in El Mundo.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Letter from the president - November 2013

A few weeks ago we received the news we have eagerly waited for: charter companies and sea schools are going to be exempt from paying the matriculation tax. This historical milestone is the result of a coordinated effort by a lot of people, of hard work by ANEN and AENIB and of a personal implication by various politicians who understand our realities, not forgetting the continued support of our associates – without it  we would not have been able to get this far. A few days ago we received also the official statistics regarding the nautical tourists that visit our islands annually: 450.000, a number that is likely to rise next year.

Next season the charter companies and sea schools will not be required to pay the matriculation tax. We have been working towards this for years. It is a significative step towards revoking this tax on boats completely, a tax that is unique in Europe and which makes us uncompetitive compared to our neighbours. We have been working for years together with ANEN to get rid of this burden, and along the way we have gained support from various representatives of the political and entrepreneurial sector. It has taken innumerable hours of work, meetings after meetings with various administrations on the european as well as national level, to prepare a practical strategic plan to help us to reach our goal, not to mention the economic effort required. From the next season on, the recreational nautical sector of the islands will start a path towards growth and prosperity.

AENIB´s recommendations before doing charter in Spain

After some delays, last Wednesday October 30th the Spanish Official State Gazette (BOE) published Law 16/2013, of October 28, 2013, adopting measures regarding environmental tax issues and other tax and financial measures. That Law modifies the matriculation/registration tax exemption established by the Spanish Excise Duties Law (Law 39/1992) for vessels effectively and exclusively engaged in the charter activity, eliminating the reference to the maximum length of 15 meters that was required under the previous wording of the Law in order to benefit from the tax exemption. 

The legal process has been tedious as the legal modification had been announced by the Council of Ministers of the Spanish Government on June 28, 2013 and, after a long and somewhat confusing amendments period, has finally been approved and published. The resulting modification of the tax exemption is the outcome of the efforts of many people and nautical industry associations that have spent long time dealing with the tax and maritime authorities, as well as with other members of the political groups involved. 

The Preamble of the Law itself recognizes that this measure will bring the Spanish tax regulations closer into line with those of other European countries, strengthen the Spanish yachting industry (owners, yacht managers, yacht brokers, shipyards, marinas, berths, maintenance, refit, etc.) and produce a revitalizing effect in other productive industries, with the consequence of increasing the capacity to generate wealth and employment. In addition, it will facilitate and make operating charter yachts in Spain more attractive to those who have been avoiding it mainly for tax reasons. It will also help Spain in the diversification, deseasonalization and deconcentration of traditional tourism, which has also been on its agenda for a long time.