Royal Decree 339/2021, of May 18, regulating the safety and pollution prevention equipment on recreational craft

From the relentless technological evolution of the equipment to be installed on recreational craft along with the latest update coming from Europe on recreational craft and marine equipment, derives the new Royal Decree 339/2021 of May 18, regulating the safety equipment and pollution prevention of recreational craft  published today May 19, 2021, and whose entry into force is set for next July 1, 2021.

For the purposes of this RD, recreational craft will be considered all types of vessels which, regardless of their means of propulsion, have a length between 2.5 and 24 meters, have been designed and intended for recreational and sporting purposes, and which do not carry more than 12 passengers.

The main objectives include, on the one hand, the determination of the equipment for the prevention of pollution of the marine environment and the safety equipment for navigation, rescue and fire protection, as well as the distinction of the requirements for such equipment. And, on the other hand, the establishment, in a clear and precise way, of the obligations of the shipowners in relation to them.

Regarding the novelties included in this Royal Decree, developed in six chapters and several final provisions, the extension of its scope of application stands out (art. 2), which will be extended: (i) to recreational vessels that are registered or pre-registered in Spain; (ii) to those that carry out an activity for commercial or lucrative purposes in maritime waters in which Spain exercises sovereignty, sovereign rights or jurisdiction, regardless of their flag State; (iii) and that navigate in Spanish internal maritime waters or the Spanish territorial sea, regardless of their flag State, and that are owned or have their use and enjoyment, natural or legal persons with residence or registered office in Spain.

Therefore, it will apply even to those vessels that, flying a foreign flag, sail through Spanish waters and the owner or the person who is actually using the vessel has a connection with Spain. As can be deduced, the aim is to avoid the escape of recreational vessels to foreign flags with more lax requirements in terms of safety and pollution prevention.

It also highlights the reference to the responsibility of owners and skippers in relation to the maintenance of the boat and safety and prevention equipment, in terms established in this Royal Decree, ensuring in any case that the boat is always in a position, to go to sea without danger to the maximum people authorized on board.

In addition to developing the sections of Rescue Equipment, Navigation Equipment, Fire Safety Equipment and means of rescue and Pollution Prevention, the regulation includes the determination of the penalty system applicable in case of infringement. To this end, it specifies and graduates the infringements already established in the Consolidated Text of the Law of State Ports and Merchant Marine, approved by the Royal Legislative Decree 2/2011, of September 5, which facilitates the determination of the corresponding penalties to be imposed, which will range from 100 € to 3,000 €.