Ships lured to register

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 July, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 July, 1995, 12:00am

SUPER tankers are a common sight in the Isle of Man ports of Castletown, Douglas, Peele or Ramsey.

And the names of these ports can also be found on some of the world's biggest ships.

Although fishing trawlers are far more common on the Isle of Man than tankers and bulk carriers, the island has become the register of choice to blue chip companies, including British Petroleum, Maersk and Shell.

The Isle of Man has set itself up as a secondary register to Britain.

Although it was only set up in 1984, there are more than 140 vessels listed.

It is all part of the island's strategy of diversifying its economy away from financial services, which account for more than a third of gross domestic product.

The main attraction for shipping is the island's low tax system.

Crews registered there can be paid in US dollars. If they stay at sea more than 186 days, their salaries are tax free.

The basis for the current favourable shipping tax system was laid in the late 1980s when exempt shipping and insurance legislation was introduced.

But the Isle of Man register offers other advantages.

Ships on the British register are forced to hire British nationals as their top three officers.

But, on the Isle of Man, this has been widened to include European and Commonwealth nationals.

Registration, certification and other administrative services are cheaper on the island than in Britain and a support industry employs 500 people.