In light of a spike in fraudulent vessel registrations, the
International Maritime Organization (IMO) is seeking to combat rogue national
flag registries operating without the knowledge of governments they claim to
According to the Standard Club, the global maritime
regulator has recently reported that 73 vessels were unlawfully flying the flag
of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 91 vessels were illegally registered
under the flag of Fiji and 150 vessels were unlawfully registered under the
flag of the Federated States of Micronesia.
To address this challenge, the IMO is developing a
comprehensive database of registries on the publicly accessible area of the
Global Integrated Shipping Information (GISIS). Specifically, the “register of
registries” will contain the names and contact details of national governing
bodies or authorized entities in charge of registration of ships. The database
will also include information regarding countries which do not operate a ship
registry, be it domestic or international.
Since international sanctions have been imposed on countries
such as Iran and North Korea to target their nuclear and ballistic missile
programs, some ships have used tactics to avoid these sanctions such as turning
off their AIS or falsely reporting their flag registry.
The UN Sanctions Committee requires the relevant flag states
to de-flag any vessels they have reasonable grounds to believe are involved in
activities prohibited by the UN Security Council Resolutions, and other flag
states should refuse to register the vessels which have been de-registered for
The IMO is intending to develop, in collaboration with the
UN Security Council, an easily searchable database that would show vessels that
are subject to UN Security Council Resolutions.
The work is expected to be completed in 2021.