Troubled Waters? Who Owns The Right Of Way On India’s Coasts?

Almost the entire Indian shipping industry is protesting the government’s move to relax cabotage. Cabotage is the right of domestic flag vessels to ply along the coast of the country for ferrying coastal cargo. The National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) wrote to the government last month, saying the move to relax cabotage “is ill conceived”.

While international ships (even those owned by Indian businessmen but sailing under foreign flags) can pick up cargo for other countries and bring it to India, the right to move such cargo along the coast of India has generally been a right enjoyed by ships flying under the Indian flag and hence registered in India.

NUSI’s main objection is that India has always embraced a strong cabotage policy, meant to provide impetus to Indian ship owners and also ensure gainful employment for Indians. Read More

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