The relevance of maritime transport to economic growth and national development is undeniable. With more than 90 per cent of world trade being carried by sea, sound and reliable maritime transport is key to interconnectivity and the rapid and smooth movement of commodities worldwide. 

Efficient maritime activities necessitate vigilant flag and port States that ensure safe and secure ships and competent crew which comply with international rules and prescriptions. The International Maritime Organization has indeed been at the forefront of developing international treaties and guidelines which promote safe, secure and efficient shipping on clean seas. The myriad of these regulations has created a formidable legal framework whose success however depends on individual States. Treaty rules to be effective need to be duly implemented in national legislation, and to discharge the obligations assumed under such rules, whilst States need to establish a robust national legal framework in compliance with these rules. 

Malta is the largest ship registry in Europe and one of the largest registries in the world. Shipping is vital to the country’s economy and generates employment for shipowning and operating companies, ship repair yards and port services, to mention a few. Acquiring the status of a flag of confidence, despite its relatively young age, the Maltese ship registry is managed by a serious and efficient maritime administration, a flag State inspectorate which ensures adherence to international standards, round the clock services, active participation in international fora, and efficient national rules and regulations. 

This article touches upon these issues with a particular focus on the maritime safety laws which have been adopted to ensure safety of life at sea, safety of navigation and safety of cargo. The Maltese legislator has been prolific in the development of national legislation and the reader should be aware that due to word limit not every aspect of maritime safety laws could be addressed in this short contribution.