Close to 400,000 boats are docked along the Norwegian coast. Now police, customs officials, insurance companies and Norwegian Sea Rescue (NSR) are lobbying to reintroduce a leisure boat registry that will give boat owners added security.
The Bondevik goverment opted to dissolve the previous registry (Småbåtregisteret) in 2003, at which time NSR established a voluntary registry to aid in rescue and recovery missions. The trade organization for banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions Finance Norway (FNO) has recently funded a report gaging the socioeconomic advantages of reintroducing the register. The report will be submitted to the Ministry of Trade and Industry today.
After collecting data from more than 40 sources, the consultants drafting the report have estimated that around 380,000 leisure boats can be found in Norwegian docks, to an estimated value of NOK 123 billion (nearly USD 23 billion). Compiling a registry of these vessels would have several advantages; owners might be more easily identified if boats are recovered drifting, following an accident or theft as well as during routine checks. “A lot of time and resources can be saved by registering these boats,” Tonje Westby, communications advisor for FNO told business newspaper Dagens Næringsliv.
Sailboat owners and colleagues Torbjørn Alveng and Stein Bruland are positive to the reintroduction of an obligatory boat registry. “It is a great idea,” Alveng told DN. While Bruland has already registered his boat with NSR, Alveng has not yet gotten around to it. “It is only sensible to make it obligatory,” Bruland told DN, “It is naive to think that there is less fraud and theft at sea than on land.”
Fearful of taxation
Opposition in the matter stems from fears that a registry of boats will easily lead to added taxation and annual fees. Westby denies that FNO commissioned the report in order to benefit insurance companies looking for new customers. “We feel this kind of registry could serve as a great tool, amongst other things to prevent insurance fraud and money laundering. It will also increase safety at sea because it will improve police checkpoint routines,” Westby told DN.
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