5 Things Seafarers Expect From Maritime Industry in 2014

With the introduction of Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) in 2013, seafarers around the world can now expect that their “basic rights” are taken care of and they are subjected to fair treatment under all circumstances.

Apart from these important rights, seafarers want at least a few more things to change in the year 2014. Several maritime organizations around the world have raised concerns regarding these issues which are bothering mariners for quite sometime now. Though a few initial steps have already been taken towards solving these issues, a lot needs to be done for providing a solution in the year 2014.

Five of the most important maritime issues that needs to be attended in the year 2014 are:

1. Protection From Somali Pirates

Though the piracy incidents along the coast of Somalia reduced in the year 2013, there was a major increase in number of pirate attacks along the coast of West Africa. While the piracy at sea fell to lowest level in seven years in 2013, some experts said that piracy can never be conquered. As the West Africa region become a piracy hotspot, European Union not only announced to boost the anti-piracy efforts but the EUNAVFOR Operation Atlanta was also extended until 2016, ensuring greater protection to seafarers.

One of the hottest topic of debate in the industry was the employment of Armed Guards on board ships to fight pirates. While some said that armed guards can be dangerous, countries such as India, France, Japan and few others allowed employment of armed guards on board ships to ensure security of their seamen.

In spite of all the steps that are taken until now, pirate attacks still occur in high risk areas. Seafarers transiting High Risk Areas thus expect that stringent security measures are taken this year in order to ensure protection from pirates.

2. Adequate Shore Leave

Shore leave is the right of every seafarer but lately these facility has been stripped off at several ports around the world because of security and immigration issues. Several maritime organizations understand the importance of shore leave for seafarers and have urged ports around the world to reconsider their shore leave policy. The International Shipping Federation (ISF), which represents maritime employers globally, has called on port states to facilitate the right of seafarers to shore leave, in line with governments’ international treaty obligations, by proposing a new pragmatic approach to visa requirements.

shore leave

Seafarers’ welfare organizations such as The Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) are also asking port workers, especially in US, to raise the issue of shore leave, asking authorities to grant visas to seafarers. Moreover, India has also issued a circular stating that all Indian ports are required to include in their Port Facility Security Plans the necessary procedures to facilitate shore leave of seafarers visiting their ports.

Considering the increase in awareness regarding the issue of shore leave around the world, seafarers expect a concrete solution or at least some form of relief as far as shore leaves are concerned.

3. Reduced Paperwork / Admin Burden

As the number of maritime regulations increase, the amount of paperwork and admin jobs that are to be handled by seafarers is also increasing. Almost all seafarers complain about the amount of admin jobs they have to carry out on board ships, neglecting more important jobs on board ships. According to a study by Danish Maritime Authority, seafarers feel that they spend too much time on tasks they consider to be an administrative burden.

Considering the increased amount of paperwork that is to be carried by seafarers, DMA points out there is scope for developing “work smart, easy-to-use” digital solutions to reduce paperwork and time consuming manual workflows, particularly in relation to port and pre-arrival procedures. The organization also recommends a revived focus on seamanship and safety culture with a view to reducing the number of procedures and burdens and advises of a potential for increased co-operation and dialogue between stakeholders in all areas of the maritime sector.

The increasing paperwork is a serious problem for seafarers, who expect a solution to the problem this year.


4. Improved Communication Facilities

In the time when people around the world are easily connected through internet, seafarers are the only people who are finding it difficult to stay connected to their loved ones and rest of the world. A decent internet connection and communication facilities is desired by seafarers around the world. Though a number of shipping companies are now offering internet connection to their crew, there is lack of network consistency  and major restrictions when the ship is at sea.

Internet on ship. © filigor – Fotolia.com

Internet connection is so desperately required by the seafarers that in a survey conducted, more than 70% of the seafarers were ready to pay for the internet if they were given an option. Seafarers also expect that ports have wifi internet connections (free or paid) which would at least help them to connect to their friends and family whenever their ship is berthed. Facilities such as those provided by Port of Antwerp is also need of the moment.

Seafarers all around the world are expecting solutions for cheaper and affordable means of communication both at sea and at ports.

5. Adequate Rest

Work at sea never stops. Seafarers are sometimes required to work continuously for hours together, especially during emergencies, which is then often followed by watch-keeping. Such round-the-clock working leads to fatigue and reduction in cognitive ability, which is the root cause of accidents on board ships.

The introduction of MLC 2006 is expected to address this issue, ensuring that seafarers get enough time to recharge themselves. Such rest period should be complimented by shore leave facilities which is talked about in one of the above topics. It is also expected that the issue of rest hour fudging will also be solved as a result of MLC.

Projects such as MARTHA has been introduced to explore ways to reduce fatigue and associated risks, on board vessels. Maritime organizations around the world are working towards solving the issue of seafarers’ fatigue and its adverse effects.

Seafarers expect that they get sufficient rest hours on board ships to ensure safe and secure voyage.

However, these are not all. Though the issues mentioned here are some of the most important ones which need attention in 2014, problems such as unemployment, lower wages, and shorter contract periods also need due consideration.

Do you think there is any other maritime issue that needs to be attended at the earliest? Let us know in the comments below.

Do you have info to share with us ? Suggest a correction

About Author

Raunek Kantharia is a marine engineer turned maritime writer and entrepreneur. After a brief stint at the sea, he founded Marine Insight in 2010. Apart from managing Marine Insight, he also writes for a number of maritime magazines and websites.

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  1. unemplyment,,,of indian officers specially at junior ranks and market flurry,,,long waiting period without pay even aftr obtaining their necessary certification…. specially in India.

  2. we can’t always expect things to happen, we need to work together with the employer to get things done. MLC has two sides.
    Just think about it, why do many Indian mariners are unemployed? because of their various demands have driven the ship owners and mangers away…

  3. I am a veteran sea fares , who sailed from 1969 to 1993 including 16-years as Chief Engineer with Wallem Shipmanagement Ltd Hong Kong. Presently I am a Professor in Marine Engineering, serving my own college i.e DMET presently Indian Maritime University, Kolkata Campus.
    I strongly support these wishes and hope IMO, UNOILO will take necessary action to fulfil these primary requirements of a seafarer, who is risking his life , sacrificing his family and serving the world community. World Community should think of consequences, if Shipping, world wide is halted by seafrers for a month. Part of the wold will freeze and remaining part will starve to death. It is high time Seafarers get their proper respect/ due security .

  4. Some action should take place. To help the Men at sea protection, better quality of way. Of work at sea.They need help. Fast ., I will pray for all of you men

  5. Regarding rest hours. its is important to note that it is still.beeing fudged to make the rest hour program comply. masters too onboard dont want to take stand and comply as it causes additional paperwork and fear of delay and off hire of the ship and effect it would have on their job as far as company is concerned.

  6. There should be adopted a law about harrasment from higher ranking officers. E.g captain terrorizing officer for lack of experience which actually is an exagerated claim due to Masters overcautioness….such behaviours should be not permitted and if a seafarer should complain it should be taken into consideration.

  7. Since the purpose of MLC is to safeguard the right of the seaman worldwide, i raised my concern over the policy in the philippines which requires training and certificates that does nothing to do with MLC. The filipino seaman now is being hold up and detained over excessive training and expensive certificate.Among those authorities thingking and taken advantage by having a training center, and imposing uncontrolled prizes of certificate which is beyond or not being required under the stcw 95. Under european union requirements is substandard school,and substandard training center to be upgraded,not the seaferers specially if already have a requirements under STCW 95. Please any from IMO that has soul aouthority to interven these matters. Thank you

  8. hope rest hours r correct….some chief officer fill rest of trainees os and cadet by there own (printed form by computer)..they work dont know how many hours…..and chief officer fills it as say mlc wants……and tell them to sign ….poor guys dont argue thinking he might haraass more…..

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