Effective January 1 this year, the maritime industry has chosen to diverge from the actions of other government departments by implementing a new requirement.
The decision mandates that all marine equipment destined for UK-flagged vessels must receive a UK mark, indicating adherence to quality and safety standards.
This move aligns with the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) directive, which necessitates approval from the flag administration of a ship for all safety and counter-pollution equipment onboard.
There are limited exceptions to the rule. Equipment classified as “spare” parts is still permissible, as well as EU-approved equipment manufactured before January 1, 2023, provided it meets specific additional criteria.
These updated rules empower the UK to deviate from the EU when deemed necessary, enabling greater adaptability to industry requirements while ensuring compliance with IMO regulations.
With the UK no longer having a mechanism to contribute to the approval and discussion of standards within the EU, it was concluded that accepting EU-approved equipment could jeopardize the UK’s fulfillment of international obligations.
Pete Rollason, Ship Construction and Equipment Lead at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) remarked that the UK’s independent marine equipment approval system enhances its ability to comply with evolving international requirements, acting accordingly as they change and develop.
This approach differs from the operations of most other product sectors. The maritime industry emphasized the importance of adhering to the deadline, as the equipment sector had already invested in preparing for the implementation of a UK regime.
Since the UK began implementing its own marine equipment regulations, it has successfully met IMO implementation dates for specific standards concerning certain types of marine equipment, while other flag administrations have fallen short.
Furthermore, the UK has established a Mutual Recognition Agreement with the US administration for select types of marine equipment. This agreement allows conformity assessment bodies in either market to evaluate goods intended for the other market and issue relevant approvals.
The UK continues to explore potential trade deals in this field.