Tim Johnston, Minister for Enterprise, has said that a decrease in the ship and aircraft registry in 2022, is due to difficult global circumstances.

From 2018 to 2022, the number of merchant vessels on both registries decreased from 400 to 300.

The registries provide proof that a vessel is registered in that location.

Mr Johnston said: ‘Both registries remain highly regarded on the global stage, and provide vital services to owners and operators, as well as giving local economic opportunities to the private sector.

‘Against the global context, the last few years has seen unprecedented challenges faced by the registries, due to a range of external factors having a significant impact.

‘Factors such as increasing international competition, changes to EU rules for Brexit, a downturn in the aviation industry following the Covid-19 pandemic, heightened tensions in parts of the world and now, most recently, the illegal invasion of Ukraine all contribute to this challenging environment.

‘The department’s decision to de-register all known Russian and Belarusian business was itself directly responsible for the loss of 22 aircraft, and 49 yachts.’

Mr Johnston said this in the House of Keys this week, after being questioned on the matter by Douglas North MHK David Ashford.

Mr Ashford asked the Minister for Enterprise what assessment has been made as to why the number of ships and aircraft registered in the island declined in 2022.

Mr Ashford said that whilst he agrees that it has been difficult global circumstances, it does not account for such a decrease in the registries.

He later made the point that the island’s pricing for registry is particularly high in comparison to competitors.

He said: ‘Take for example vessels used for pleasure. In the Isle of Man currently, it’s £555 per year to register a pleasure vessel, the equivalent size in Jersey is £420 for ten years, for Guernsey it’s£350 for ten years, in the UK it’s £153 for five years and Gibraltar is £225 for the initial registration but then £25 per year after.’

Mr Johnston said that the fees in the island were increased relatively recently, which is in the backdrop of a very competitive market.

He said: ‘It is a very difficult balance between trying to remain competitive, but also realising that it has to work financially going forward.

‘That is why the team are looking at new ideas, for example the green fees on shipping to try and distinguish ourselves in what is a very competitive market.

‘We have also appointed a business development manager for key local markets, including in Singapore, Greece and Japan to make sure we are attending all sorts of shipping industry events.’

He added: ‘We are also investing in remote inspection technology, to allow the ship registry to undertake services in a more innovative and cost-effective way.’