The UK will tighten up its laws to tackle shipping fraud while making conditions safer for sailors and passengers.

The government has launched a consultation into the measures contained in the draft merchant shipping (special measures to enhance maritime safety) regulations 2024.

Provisions of international convention to tackle shipping fraud have been proposed to become UK law by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to help enforce security and safety at sea.

Approving the regulations, which are already contained in international maritime law, would bring them formally into UK law and make them fully enforceable in national waters.

They would require identification numbers for most ships, as well as for owners and operators.

Ships would also have to carry on board a complete history of operation, called a “continuous synopsis record”.

The requirements apply to most internationally trading passenger and cargo ships, including a number of small domestic ships.

Additionally, oil tankers would have to be surveyed in accordance with the International Code on the Enhanced Programme of Inspections during surveys of bulk carriers and oil tankers.

Katy Ware, Director of UK Maritime Services, said “These proposed new measures have the dual benefits of helping to tackle fraud while making conditions safer for sailors and passengers. They are another indication of the UK’s commitment to safety at sea and determination to combat criminality.”

Other provisions cover a diverse range of safety obligations and are implemented in several separate instruments.