The Ministry of Transport and Communications has initiated a reform of the Vessel Traffic Service Act. The Act will be updated primarily due to changes in international regulation. Simultaneously, other necessary changes will also be made to the Act.
The Act, which entered into force in 2005, provides for Vessel Traffic Services (VTS), which form a part of vessel traffic management. The purpose of the Act is to improve the safety and efficiency of vessel traffic and to prevent the detrimental impact of vessel traffic on the environment.
The sea areas along the Finnish coast are divided into six VTS areas, which are monitored 24 hours a day by the VTS centres of Helsinki, Turku and Lappeenranta. The centres inform vessels about other vessel traffic and traffic conditions. The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency is responsible for organising vessel traffic services, which are provided by Fintraffic Vessel Traffic Services Ltd.
Vessel traffic services are partly regulated by the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). Amendments to the provisions of resolutions under the SOLAS Convention are expected to be made in autumn 2021. The amendments relate to the organisation of vessel traffic services. In the future, target-based guidelines would be introduced for the organisation of vessel traffic services instead of the current detailed guidelines.
In Finland, the Finnish Maritime Administration adopted a decision in 1997 on the organisation of vessel traffic management and support services (VTS) in sea, port and inland water areas. In addition to the SOLAS Convention, the Vessel Traffic Service Act is also based on a number of other international and EU regulations.
The Vessel Traffic Service Act also requires clarification, as several individual amendments have been made to it over the years. The Act on the Technical Safety and Safe Operation of Ships would also be amended.
The drafting will be carried out by the Ministry of Transport and Communications in cooperation with stakeholders. The draft bill is expected to be submitted for consultation in spring 2022. The Act would enter into force on 1 January 2023.
An open stakeholder event on the legislative project will be held on Tuesday 8 June 2021 from 14:30 to 16:00. The event will be held on Microsoft Teams; please register your attendance by 3 June.