DESPITE losing a potential very large crude carrier (VLCC) to the Liberian register recently, the Hongkong shipping register will not reduce its fees to attract ships to its books, says a senior Marine official. Mr Tsui Shung-yiu, assistant director of Marine, said Ming Wah Shipping Co must have had a good reason for changing its plans about registering its VLCC in Hongkong. The owner had cited ''technical reasons'' for placing the 300,000 deadweight tonne (dwt) vessel on the Liberian register. ''We are a quality register and not a profit-making register. And we want to maintain this,'' said Mr Tsui, adding that Hongkong did not want to compete with other registers. A Ming Wah spokesman said the vessel, New Victory now about to be completed in a shipyard in Japan, had been placed in Monrovia due to its close relationship with the US and also because it would be trading to the US. It is not yet known whether a second VLCC being built by Ming Wah in Japan would be placed under the Hongkong register. A shipping source suggested that the company's decision not to register the VLCC in Hongkong may be linked to problems involving the re-mortgage of the vessel. Some banks, after agreeing to finance a vessel, maybe very strict about any transfers and might not want to provide the re-mortgage as conditions changed when effecting a transfer, he said. Furthermore, the requirements of shipping registers differed, and this might also have given problems to the company as it had originally wanted to place the VLCC under a different register, he added. Though the Hongkong register had not been successful in attracting VLCCs despite capping its registration fees in April last year, it has had better success with Panamax bulk carriers. Shipbuilders are aware that if they want to build a VLCC for the Hongkong register, the fees would be between US$20,000 and $25,000 higher than other registers, besides having to comply with stringent standards of construction and equipment. The Hongkong register's argument is that if an owner wanted quality, he had to pay for it. Mr Tsui said the register, which had gained over one million gross registered tonnes (grt) to 7.4 million grt in February, now had 7.55 million grt registered. ''We are growing slowly but steadily,'' he said. He added that there were still 15 vessels in the pipeline involving some 53,000 tonnes - currently being built in Japan, China and South Korea - which owners had not placed on the Hongkong register. ''The owners work with us until they submit their applications and then we send them the bill. This is usually about one to two months before delivery of the vessel,'' Mr Tsui said. The Marine Department is continuing its efforts to educate shipbuilders in the region of the Hongkong register's requirements, especially to dispel any beliefs that the territory was still following requirements of the UK register. Mr Tsui said during a meeting last month with the International Maritime Organisation, all proposals raised by Hongkong on dynamically support craft were accepted.