The secretary-general of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Kitack Lam has vowed to crack down on owners who abandon crews. At a seminar held at the IMO’s headquarters in London last week, Lim emphasised that continued cooperation between IMO, organizations such as the International Labour Organization (ILO), flag states, port states and shipowner groups was essential. “We have a human duty to protect seafarers, and we must not hide from it,” Lim said.
Attendees of the seminar were shown how a joint IMO-ILO database on reported incidents of abandonment of seafarers has named and shamed many shipping lines in recent years. Splash readers can access the database by clicking here.
The vexing issue of crew abandonment, cases of which have soared as the downturn has lengthened, has seen a number of charities call for more punitive measures.
The Apostleship of the Sea for instance has said that owners who deliberately abandon their ships and the crew onboard should not be able to act with impunity. Port state control, along with other stakeholders, should ensure that any other ships in a fleet where one or more has been deliberately abandoned are tracked and the needs of seafarers onboard those ships given particular attention when in port, the charity has suggested.
Meanwhile, the Mission to Seafarers has called for all owners who abandon ships to be barred from shipowning.
In January this year important new rules came into force on crew abandonment.
Under the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) shipowners must have insurance to assist the seafarers onboard vessels if they are abandoned.
All ships, to which the convention applies, whose flag states have ratified the MLC must have the insurance certificate onboard and on show in English.
The insurance will cover seafarers for up to four months outstanding wages and entitlements in line with their employment agreement or CBA.
The insurance must also cover reasonable expenses such as repatriation, food, clothing where necessary, accommodation, drinking water, essential fuel for survival on board and any necessary medical care. It will apply from the moment of abandonment to the time of arrival back home.