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Marine VHF radio licence fees abolished

The annual licence fee on marine VHF radios - radios most commonly fitted on Maltese-registered small ships, fishing boats and pleasure craft - was abolished on January 1, Communications and Competitiveness Minister Ċensu Galea said yesterday.

Mr Galea said marine VHF radios will now be regulated by a general authorisation.

Over 3,500 licencees will benefit from the change. Most importantly, he said, the new rules should encourage boat owners to purchase and install marine radio equipment which greatly increase safety at sea by facilitating safety and rescue operations.

However, he cautioned, general authorisation did not mean that the conditions of use of such radios no longer applied. These are now set out in a general authorisation published under the Radio Communications Act (LN 7/2008) and all radio owners are required to comply with such rules.

Mr Galea also announced that a one-stop shop service for owners of such radios has been introduced and licences are now being issued and renewed at the Merchant Shipping Directorate of the Malta Maritime Authority.

Furthermore, as all marine radios require the assignment of identities in order to be operated effectively in case of distress or emergency, a one-stop shop service for the assignment of such identities is being introduced.

Such identities will be issued in the next few weeks by the authority responsible for registering the vessel on board of which the radio will be used. This will either be the MMA's Merchant Shipping Directorate or the Yachting Directorate or the Fisheries and Aquaculture Branch of the Ministry for Rural Affairs and Environment.

The Malta Communications Authority, which is the watchdog responsible for the regulation of radio equipment, has already issued detailed information regarding the application of the new regime. This information is available on the MCA's website at www.mca.org.mt.

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