Under the Maritime
Labour Convention, the normal maximum period that a seafarer can serve aboard a
vessel without leave is 11 months. Due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions and
border closures, AMSA has allowed for interim exemptions from this rule to keep
the trade moving.
“AMSA has now
issued a new marine notice, Marine Notice 10/2020, stating a return to
international requirements, of no more than 11 continuous months on board, will
be applied from 28 February 2021,” the
Seafarers on board ships for longer than 11 months is not sustainable
General Manager of
Operations Allan Schwartz said that while flexibility on the part of regulators
was necessary when the COVID-19 pandemic began, keeping seafarers on board
ships for longer than 11 months is not sustainable going forward.
The decision is
being announced as findings from a new report conducted by the World Maritime
University (WMU) point to ‘systemic failures in the implementation of the
regulatory regime for seafarers’ hours of work and rest, undermining the
credibility of international regulations relating to working hours.
argues that insufficient manning is the root cause of violations, especially
during peak workload conditions
This report throws down the gauntlet to the states that have ratified
the conventions in good faith
“It seems that all
stakeholders are aware of the problems but lack the authority or willingness to
address the root causes. This report throws down the gauntlet to the states
that have ratified the conventions in good faith and must now acknowledge that
significant change in ensuring effective implementation of the instruments is
needed to retain their credibility,” Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of
the WMU, said.
Despite calls from
industry bodies, including the IMO, to national governments to designate
seafarers as key workers to facilitate their repatriation in line with the
protocols developed by the industry, the cry for help remains unanswered.
Certain flag states like Singapore have been more proactive than
states like Singapore have been more proactive than others, however, shipowners
have been faced with increasing costs to relieve their overworked crews as they
had to divert their ships to locations where crew changes were allowed.
At the moment, the
IMO is working on a list of all ports where crew changes are possible in line
with crew change regulations in individual countries.