The Isle of Man Ship Registry is to charge an annual registration fee for the first time in its 25-year history.

The annual fee of £700 ($1,000) per merchant vessel will be effective from April 2010 and is not dependent on the size or type of the ship, the registry said.

The revised fee structure offers discounts for owners and operators of multi-ship fleets on a sliding scale of discounts up to 25%, for operators of fleets in excess of 50 ships under the Manx Flag.

Isle of Man Shipping Agency director Dick Welsh said this was the first time owners would be able to compare their fees with those of other flags.

The registry said there would be a reduction of fees for services and certification under the new registration to bring down the overall cost.