Tanzania Closes its Open Registry
Tanzania has temporarily closed its maritime registry to foreign vessels while it reviews the status of all ships flying its flag. President John Magufuli announced the suspension on Friday in response to a string of arrests involving Tanzanian-flagged vessels for drug smuggling and gun-running. “We cannot allow the name of our country to be tarnished by individuals pursuing their selfish interests,” Magufuli said.
Tanzanian Vice-President Samia Suluhu Hassan also announced that the government is suspending the registration of two vessels arrested for illicit activity. These include the Andromeda, which was detained in Crete with a load of explosives bound for Libya, and the Kaluba, which was recently seized off the Dominican Republic with over a tonne of cocaine on board. Hassan added that Tanzania will be pursuing action against the individuals who registered these ships.
Tanzania ranks second from the bottom of the Paris MOU blacklist, and only ships registered in the Democratic Republic of Congo are detained more frequently in European ports for inspection deficiencies. Last year, it bowed to international pressure and de-registered 45 vessels that were suspected of violating UN sanctions on North Korea.
The full closure of its flag state services may be unprecedented for an open registry. Tanzanian sources indicated that foreign-owned vessels were flagged by the semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar, an island about 15 nm off the nation's coast that has been described as the "African Hong Kong" for its special political status. According to an archived snapshot of its site, the "Tanzania Zanzibar International Register of Shipping" offers both permanent and demolition voyage registration, and can also create corporate entities via an online form. As of Monday its website was available to registered users only.
[Top: The Andromeda, detained at the pier in Heraklion, Crete (Hellenic Coast Guard)]