UK MCA ran a consultation and concluded to a new method by which passenger numbers and passenger information is required to be transmitted; By December 20 2023, for vessels to which the regulations apply, passenger numbers must be reported digitally to the relevant authorities either via the National Single Window (‘NSW’) or via the ship’s Automatic Identification System (‘AIS’).
Accordingly, this proposed regulation aims to ensure that HM Coastguard have direct access to accurate passenger information onboard passenger vessels. This will assist search and rescue authorities to properly evaluate each situation and operate more effectively.
These time efficiency and informational access improvements will help reduce the risks to lives onboard when in distress.
It is noted that from the consultation there was repeated mention of a lack of clarity regarding the applicability of vessels to which the new requirements for reporting to the NSW or via AIS apply and to which vessels it does not apply.
Concerning the data protection issue, one response received highlighted the need to ensure the data gathered and also the data reported is adequate and in line with current data protection requirements and finally to ensure that it is required that passenger ship operators make their passengers aware why their data is being required and how such data will be handled.
Thus, MCA reports that
Following review of the associated documentation it was decided that to improve the data protection elements required by the new requirements, further guidance was necessary in order to highlight the importance of ensuring ship operators and all government departments involved with the processing of passenger information strictly follow the Data Protection Act 2018.
Gathering of information relating to “gender” in line with current guidance and consistent across government
Through the consultancy, one response was received from the Law Society of Scotland, highlighting the need to ensure the importance of the recording of information in relation to gender allows passengers to freely select a suitable option including non-binary. In the interests of consistency, these regulations should be in line with the recording of gender information by other UK government departments.
In light of the above, MCA adds that
A new section within MSN 1794 Amendment 1 was established in order to highlight the importance to ship owners and operators of the latest guidance and approaches to requesting information. A link to the Equality and Human Rights Commission website was provided.
It is concluded that UK MCA will finalize the The Merchant Shipping (Counting and Registration of Persons on board Passenger Ships). Regulations 2021 was laid before Parliament on the 28th of January 2021 with it coming into force on the 22nd of February 2021.
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