TALLINN - The Port of Tallinn, the largest in the Baltics, announced last week that it has approved an average 7 's 9 percent increase in port dues starting Jan. 1, 2006.
Spokesman Sven Ratassepp told the Baltic News Service that the average rise would be 4 percent for cruise ships, 1 's 2 percent for passenger ships and 2 's 3 percent for other cargo ships.
Also, in line with EU requirements, the port's council approved a waste charge obligatory for all ships and vowed to organize disposal of ship waste in the port. Last month Finns protested against Tallink for its practice of dumping waste into the Gulf of Finland, a practice which the passenger ferry company defended but promised to change in order to assuage concerns.
"Under the new structure of port dues, similar principles will be applied to imposing charges on both freight and passenger ships. Port dues will be set depending on the tonnage of and number of visits by a ship, and their changes in future will be tied to the consumer price index," Port of Tallinn officials said.
Port CEO Ain Kaljurand defended the hikes by saying that the Port of Tallinn would remain among the most competitive in the region even after the new fees go into effect. The situation differs as regards different types of vessels, but with its new dues the Port of Tallinn is at least among the top two ports as regards the terms it offers to customers, he said.
Kaljurand said the port's council had studied the situation on the market when carrying out the indexation.
While port dues and charges make up only a small portion of the total costs related to transit passing through Estonia, higher dues would have a negative impact on transit in the long run, the CEO said, though this would be psychological.
Freight owners grow uncomfortable if someone else in the same chain starts pushing up his margins, he explained.
Other Baltic ports 's particularly Riga and Liepaja 's have announced a similar hike in their fees that will take effect in January. Kaljurand said, however, that the hikes in Tallinn were not related to those announced by Riga and Liepaja.
Still, the trend toward higher port dues is prevailing in the region's ports, Kaljurand admitted.
The fee rise planned by the Riga Free Port is expected to be significantly higher than the Port of Tallinn's, while that of Liepaja will amount to a 10 percent rise.