The international maritime community has strong vocal chords. It can create quite a noise when it wants to, as evidenced by the current blabber and bluster about wellness training for seafarers. Ironically, the folks who are voluble on such faddish issues are silent on other matters. I am reminded of the three proverbial monkeys — seeing no evil, hearing no evil and speaking no evil. The following are five important issues about which those who wield some power and influence — not least of all, the unions and the maritime press — cannot feign ignorance.

Restricted access to the STCW Convention

I will say it for the nth time. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is denying seafarers ready access to the full text of the very document that governs their profession: the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW). The STCW 2017 edition (419 pages in PDF format) will cost seafarers a whopping £50. Sorry, no free online access to the STCW and other IMO conventions.

The maritime training overload

The mountain of training requirements continues to grow higher, making  seafaring more regulated than the medical and engineering professions. It is costing seafaers time and money. But who gives a hoot? Certainly, not the unions or the maritime charities.

The Day of the Seafarer anomaly

There’s one question that those who love to mouth slogans and clichés on the “Day of the Seafarer” never ask. Why is the celebration of this annual event spearheaded by the IMO and not by the International Labour Organization (ILO)? The question should matter a lot to anyone who wants to see sincere and enlightened governance from the powers that be.

IMO’s institutional overreach and power-tripping

The IMO has been dipping its hands in areas that are outside its original mandate. It started the “Day of the Seafarer” celebration in 2010, thus hijacking an institutional concern that properly belongs to the International Labour Organization (ILO). This overreach, which signifies a hunger for power on the part of IMO officials, is once again evident in the organisation’s campaign to promote gender equality.

Use of maritime cadets as slave labour

This problem may be specific to the Philippines and Filipino cadets. However, it is an international issue as it involves foreign shipping companies and associations which have cadetship programmes in selected maritime academies. The silence of these shipowners on the exploitation of the cadets makes them accessories to the crime.

~ Barista Uno


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