Persons who provide welfare services to seafarers in European ports please note: The Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme is delivering training for welfare responses to piracy and other violent maritime crime.

The next course will be held on 14th and 15th April in Hamburg, Germany. For more information on how to join the course, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or go to Contact Us on our website www.mphrp.org

The course is aimed at chaplains, union officials and human resources departments at shipping companies. The course will contain up to date information on maritime piracy and will offer guidance on how best to support seafarers and families affected by piracy.

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Euro-MT-logoEuropean Manning & Training Conference 28 to 29 April 2015

Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel, Copenhagen

3 days of interactive and informative sessions from 30+ speakers, 120+ attendees, 25+ countries

Training and retaining competent seafarers to crew tomorrow's fleet

• European crewing news bulletin
• STCW feedback forum
• Generation Y strategy lab
• MLC task force panel
• STCW training and competency management workshop, 30 April 2015

50% discount for Shipowners. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for details

For more information and to receive a 20% discount, quote VIP code: FKT2768ISWB

Visit the event website: http://www.informamaritimeevents.com/FKT2768ISWB

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is hopeful progress can now be made towards improving the facilitation of shore leave and crew transfers for the world's 1.5 million merchant seafarers, who collectively transport about 90% of world trade. This follows important recommendations by an International Labour Organization (ILO) tripartite meeting of employers, seafarers' unions and governments in Geneva last week, at which ICS co-ordinated the shipowners' representation.

The ILO meeting considered possible adjustments to the Seafarers' Identity Documents Convention (Revised), 2003 (ILO 185), and outlined a pathway that could bring about improvements to the welfare of seafarers while addressing the legitimate security concerns of governments.

ILO 185 requires ratifying nations to issue resident seafarers with Seafarers' Identity Documents (SIDs), and to facilitate the entry of foreign seafarers holding SIDs into their territory for the purposes of shore leave, transfer and transit. However, since its adoption in 2003, the Convention has failed to achieve widespread implementation, in large part because the technical standards adopted have been superseded by the technologies and infrastructure now used for the issuance and verification of ePassports.

Last week's meeting brought together governments and the ILO 'Social Partners' in order to consider these issues and to make formal recommendations to the ILO Governing Body on options that might help to bring about the further ratification and more widespread implementation of ILO 185.

Most notable among the recommendations agreed by the tripartite meeting was a proposal that the technical specifications for Seafarers' Identity Documents, within the annexes to ILO 185, should be updated in order to bring them into line with those technologies currently used for ePassports. In practice, this would mean the inclusion within SIDs of a facial image biometric and a digital signature, both stored on a contactless chip, making SIDs inter-operable with the infrastructure used by most countries to issue ePassports and to verify them at their borders.

The Shipowners' Spokesperson for the meeting, Joe Cox (President of the Chamber of Shipping of America) explained: "The principal concern of shipowners with respect to ILO 185 has always been that it should help to ensure seafarers' access to shore leave and their ability to join or leave a vessel in a foreign country. But technical issues have clearly prevented widespread implementation by governments. In addressing some of these issues, the meeting's recommendations have outlined a potential way forward that could make it easier for governments to ratify and implement this important Convention."

The recommendations will be considered by a future meeting of the ILO Governing Body which will consider whether the proposed measures should be taken forward.

"The effective implementation of ILO 185 is of great importance to the welfare of seafarers and the efficiency of the global shipping industry, as well as addressing the legitimate security concerns of governments" said Mr Cox. "It will therefore be incumbent upon the ILO Governing Body to give careful consideration to the recommendations that have been put forward by this ILO tripartite meeting."

The ICS is a member of ISWAN.

A new website designed to encourage the formation of port welfare boards around the world to provide a welcome to visiting seafarers has been launched by the UK based Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB) in association with ISWAN.

An important element in a project managed on behalf of the International Seafarers' Welfare Assistance Network (ISWAN), the website explains the role of welfare boards, which are an integral part of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006, now being implemented around the world.

Regulation 4.4 of MLC 2006, requires member states to ensure that seafarers working on board a ship have access to shore-based facilities and services to secure their health and well-being. It recommends that in order to fulfil this requirement, member states "shall encourage the establishment of welfare boards which shall regularly review welfare facilities and services to ensure that they are appropriate in the light of changes in the needs of seafarers resulting from technical, operational and other developments in the shipping industry."

Managed by the MNWB, the ISWAN project is designed to provide information, guidance and advice to assist in the establishment of welfare boards in parts of the world where they have not been previously seen. Additionally, the project will assess the operational effectiveness of existing welfare boards around the world, while helping to establish minimum standards and promoting best practice. It is hoped that using this information, developed within a single point of contact, a "model" might be provided that will be the basis of welfare boards thus fulfilling the objectives of MLC 2006 and leading to a major, global project.

ISWAN Executive Director, Roger Harris stated "We are pleased to have the ITF Seafarers' Trust sponsoring and MNWB managing this important pilot project on our behalf." He added "We now have an international Project Executive Committee that boasts cross sector representation and are looking forward to working in partnership with MNWB who possess a wealth of experience operating welfare boards."

Peter Tomlin, Deputy Chief Executive of MNWB and Project Manager stated "Strong, effective Welfare Boards needn't be expensive or time consuming to organise or participate in. Every port is unique and we are mindful that there is no easy 'one size fits all' rule for establishing Welfare Boards; however, we look forward to sharing our expertise with partners in the international maritime community. Welfare boards are capable of really supporting and improving seafarers' welfare services in ports and this exciting pilot project captures the collaborative spirit of MLC, 2006"

Kimberly Karlshoej, Head of ITF Seafarers' Trust stated "The Trust is very proud to be the sponsor of the Port Welfare Partnership Pilot Project. The promotion and utilisation of port welfare boards is a critical step in improving services to seafarers during their all too short stays in the world's ports".

The project website emphasises that the successful welfare board is, like a well-functioning port welfare committee, a co-operative partnership within the maritime community. It will involve the participation of individuals and agencies such as harbourmasters, port agents, port health, seafaring unions, voluntary organisations and the welfare providers, along with local authorities. At both a national and local port level, it will also encourage financial support from the industry through port levies and donations, and seek other mechanisms for funding, where this might be required.

Designed to provide an introduction to the important topic of seafarers' welfare, and underlining the reasons why the obligations under MLC 2006 are important, the website also shows something of the life of the modern day seafarer and why ports need to provide this essential workforce with a warm welcome, all around the world.

To access the new project website visit www.portwelfare.org

A new survey of seafarers has just been launched to inform the maritime industry about their views on life at sea and future job prospects.

A key factor in the manning situation is the seafarers' job satisfaction. If they are unhappy with their work and social life at sea they will leave as soon as they can, whereas if they are content with their conditions they will stay longer. The more who leave early, the more recruitment and training levels must be increased to replace them.

So, in addition to the normal questionnaires to employers and governments concerning seafarer supply and demand, the 2015 Report will also be researching the views of those most affected by the supply/demand situation at the sharp end: seafarers themselves, MET institutions, manning agents and port welfare workers. ISWAN will be centrally involved in helping to collect and analyse the views and opinions of port welfare service personnel.

If you are a seafarer then please fill in the survey here. If you have contact with seafarers, as an employer, seafarer centre or union, then please encourage them to participate in the survey.

 For further information, go to the project website at www.maritimemanpower.com

Dr Cleo Doumbia-Henry of the ILO, has been appointed as the President of the World Martime University in Malmo, Sweden. Dr Doumbia-Henry has played a key role in the adoption of the Maritime Labour Convention. ISWAN warmly welcomes Dr Doumbia-Henry's new appointment.

Mr. Koji Sekimizu, IMO Secretary-General, who is also Chancellor of WMU, announced Dr. Doumbia-Henry's appointment as he welcomed students at the start of the new semester at the WMU in Malmö.

"Dr. Doumbia-Henry has served the UN system with distinction for many years and as Director of the International Labour Standards Department of the ILO she was instrumental in developing and working with governments and the shipowners' and seafarers' organizations to help ensure effective national legal implementation of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006. She has had a long standing commitment to the maritime sector and to education, beginning with her doctoral research on IMO Conventions. In addition, she has an excellent knowledge of the needs of developing countries and the difficulties which they may encounter in implementing and enforcing the provisions of maritime transport related multilateral treaties. I am delighted that we have been able to secure such a distinguished and able individual to steer the WMU as it embarks on a new and exciting era and I wish her, and the University, every success in the future," Mr. Sekimizu said.

Dr. Doumbia-Henry was heavily involved in the development of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006. Since the late 1990s, she has been leading the ILO participation in a number of IMO/ILO interagency collaborations on several issues of common interest to IMO and ILO, including the Joint IMO/ILO Ad Hoc Expert Working Groups on Fair Treatment of Seafarers and on Liability and Compensation regarding Claims for Death, Personal Injury and Abandonment of Seafarers.

Dr. Doumbia-Henry will be the seventh WMU president and will be the first female in the role as well as the first President from a developing country.

The role of the WMU President is to manage the University, under the direction of its Board of Governors, the Executive Board and the Chancellor, who set the policies within the framework of the WMU Charter.

About the World Maritime University (WMU)

Founded in 1983 by IMO, the World Maritime University (WMU) is a center of excellence for maritime post-graduate education and research.

WMU offers M.Sc. and Ph.D. programs, postgraduate diplomas, and Professional Development Courses with the highest standards in maritime affairs. Headquartered in Malmö, Sweden with additional M.Sc. programs in Shanghai and Dalian, China, WMU promotes the international exchange and transfer of maritime ideas and knowledge.

A total of 3,293 students from 165 countries have graduated from WMU to date.

The WMU will be moving during 2015 to new premises in Tornhuset, the centrally located, historic harbour master's building that is being enhanced by a dramatic new addition designed by renowned architect Kim Utzon in collaboration with Tyrone Cobcroft of Terrior Architects (Australia). The new building will be inaugurated in May 2015.

About Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry

Dr. Cleopatra (Cleo) Doumbia-Henry (LL.B, LL.M, LL.M., Ph.D. International Law) is currently Director of the International Labour Standards Department, of the International Labour Office of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Geneva, Switzerland.

Dr. Doumbia-Henry began her career at the University of the West Indies, Barbados, as a lecturer in law. She worked with the Iran-US Claims Tribunal in The Hague, The Netherlands and then joined the ILO in 1986. She served as a senior lawyer of ILO as well as in other management positions before being appointed Director of the International Labour Standards Department in 2004. She was heavily involved in the development of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006.

Dr. Doumbia-Henry has been admitted as a Barrister at Law and Solicitor, entitled to practice in all English-speaking Caribbean jurisdictions and a Member of the Inner Temple, Inns of Court, United Kingdom.

She holds the following academic degrees:

• a Bachelor of Law (LL.B.) from the University of the West Indies;

• a Masters in Law ( LL.M) from the University of the West Indies;

• a Masters in International Law (LL.M.)from the Graduate Institute of International Studies, University of Geneva,

• a Doctorate in International Law (Ph.D.) from the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva, Switzerland.

She has published extensively on a wide range of international law subjects, including: international labour law, international trade law, maritime law, and the law of the sea.

This survey, aimed at women seafarers only, follows on from the Rapid Health Needs Questionnaire (pilot study) which was distributed in July 2014. The survey is fully confidential and has been devised by the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), Seamen's Hospital Society (SHS), International Maritime Health Association (IMHA) and International Seafarers' Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN).

The purpose of this survey is to help inform the way our organisations make or campaign for improvements to the health information/services available to women seafarers. It is designed to reach a much larger number of participants than the pilot study and to build on the findings we have so far. If you have already taken part in the first questionnaire, you are still encouraged to complete this one.

All responses are anonymous and cannot be traced back to you.

Please note this survey is aimed at women seafarers only.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

 

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Responding to recent articles and reports on current levels of maritime piracy, intentionally MPHRP highlighted the worrying trend that they appear to avoid the word "piracy" in favour of "new forms of criminality", specifically "attacks" and "hijacking". The technical differences denoted by these terms aside, a basic truth is veiled: that violent crime is committed against seafarers.

Of Somali-based piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean - the one region where the term "piracy" is accurately applied - Hon. Abdalla Jama Saleh, the Minister for Maritime Transport, Ports and Counter Piracy for Puntland, states that the pirates are "not defeated but dormant." Jama Saleh is charged with leading Somalia's counter piracy efforts by working with the international community to fight piracy inland and along the coast of Puntland. He spoke to Defence IQ about the decline of piracy off the Somali coast and how that has now given rise to new maritime challenges in the Gulf of Aden. In tandem with his remarks, it must be noted that the international community's naval operations in the Indian Ocean, "Atalanta" and "Ocean Shield" have been extended until the end of 2016 amid warnings that, while Somali-based piracy in the Indian Ocean is held in check by multinational naval operations, pirates retain their capability to resume attacks, hijackings and hostage taking. The United Nations' Contact Group for Piracy off the Coast of Somalia has also been given an extended mandate by its members. Meanwhile, 30 seafarers are still being held captive by pirates on Somali soil.

In its recently released 2014 piracy report, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) announced that "ship hijackings" in South East Asia spiked in 2014. While there have been fewer overall reports of piracy attacks (245, according to the IMB), the number of hijackings in 2014 totalled 21 compared to 12 in 2013. "The global increase in hijackings is due to a rise in attacks against coastal tankers in South East Asia," said Pottengal Mukundan, director of IMB and Member of the MPHRP Board. "Gangs of armed thieves have attacked small tankers in the region for their cargoes, many looking specifically for marine diesel and gas oil to steal and then sell." The IMB highlighted the death of a crew member shot in an attack on a bitumen tanker in December as a possibility the incidents were becoming more violent.

The UK Chamber of Shipping has warned that progress made in the Indian Ocean should not mask significant security threats to shipping and seafarers in other regions, both off West Africa and in South East Asia – where a violent "petro-piracy" is thriving. UK Chamber CEO, Guy Platten, said that in these regions violent acts of maritime crime take place within the waters of functioning states. "This new form of maritime criminality, which often has links to shore-based oil theft, is taking place within the jurisdictions of functioning nation-states, but ones that pay little attention to maritime security and governance," Platten said. "Put simply, these regions have become a breeding ground for future pirates."

The MTISC (Gulf of Guinea) guidance adds that seafarers themselves are key to combating piracy in the region: "Experience has shown in other parts of the world that maritime security cannot be improved by the actions of law enforcement agencies and militaries alone; it requires the full support of seafarers operating in the region. This is more important in the seas off West Africa where navies, coastguards and law enforcement agencies have limited resources." It follows that seafarers need to be made aware and be adequately equipped to counter piracy.

Similarly, the Asian Ship Owners Forum has "expressed its grave concern over the growing threat of piracy in the waters of West Africa", adding that "experience has ... shown us that prompt and decisive action must be taken to nip the threat of piracy and armed robbery in the bud, before a handful of incidents can grow into a regional or even global problem that threatens the lives and well-being of thousands of seafarers".

Roy Paul, Programme Director of MPHRP, said, "At the end of last year our team in South East Asia were involved in responding to the death of Mr. Tran Duc Dat, 3rd Engineer of the Vietnam flagged M/T VP Asphalt 2. The seafarers were tied up and the pirates searched a number of crew cabins and stole personal effects. The pirates then left the vessel and made their escape. The third engineer was found in his cabin having been shot in the forehead. Welfare responders from MPHRP assisted the family through the repatriation and burial of their loved one. He leaves a wife and two young daughters and MPHRP also assisted other crew members after these violent events". MPHRP is assisting nearly 500 seafarers and their families who have been affected by piracy and armed robbery.

The industry is already investing heavily in shore side solutions to piracy. In Somalia several projects focus on creating jobs for Somali's and intend to create and restore law and order infrastructure to prosecute criminality. It is sad then, to report that in comparison little is being done to address the hardship of seafarers and families who have lost their lives, their health, their freedom and livelihood to piracy while they were simply doing the job that they were legally employed to do.

It is our seafarers who bear the brunt of these criminal acts, irrespective of what these crimes are called or how statistics are counted. Ultimately, violent crime at sea will affect the recruitment and retention of career seafarers.

The MPHRP warns against complacency. The MPHRP encourages continued efforts to ensure the safety of seafarers. The MPHRP calls for seafarers to be made aware, to remain vigilant and to apply themselves to protective measures against piracy. The MPHRP highlights the hardship inflicted upon seafarers and families. The MPHRP pleads for simple acts of humanitarian support for already affected seafarers and families and it can be contacted on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or www.mphrp.org

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Imagine you are a seafarer who has been injured and left in hospital while your ship has sailed

Imagine you are a seafarer who has received bad news while at sea

Imagine you are a mother of seafarer who has been lost at sea

Who do you turn to?

ISWAN's SeafarerHelp is there for seafarers and their families 24 hours a day, 365 day per year. Our dedicated staff will be working over Christmas and New Year in case a seafarer calls with a problem or if they simply want to speak to someone in their own language. We refer cases to the most appropriate organisation, if possible, in the port where the seafarer is visiting or about to visit.

This year we have seen an increase of nearly 50% in the number of seafarers that contact us.

Although we receive funds from generous grant giving organisations, we still need to raise more money to keep our SeafarerHelp service running 24 hours every day of the year.

Can you give a donation of £15 or US$15 or more today? Better still, can you donate £5 or US$5 per month? We can accept donations by credit or paypal in different currencies. Simply click on the following link.

Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving

We are there for seafarers. Will you be there for us?

Have a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

Thank you.

In response to the continuing crisis in the Mediterranean, necessitating commercial ships to rescue tens of thousands of migrants and refugees during 2014, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), and ISWAN member, has published new Guidance on Large Scale Rescue Operations at Sea, which can be downloaded free of charge via the ICS website.

ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe explained: "The shipping industry fully accepts its humanitarian obligation to assist anyone at sea whose vessel is in distress. But the scale of the crisis involving thousands of people attempting to get to Europe in craft that are neither fit for purpose nor seaworthy has raised real concerns about the safety and health of ships' crews that may be involved in rescuing as many as 200 people at a time."

The challenges involved in rescuing large numbers of people and then accommodating them on board ship prior to disembarkation are enormous compared to conventional rescue operations. The ICS Guidelines are therefore intended to help shipping companies prepare for this eventuality, whilst taking full of account of the safety and security of the ship should such large scale rescues be necessary. ICS says that experience has shown that advance preparations, and the development of effective procedures supported by regular drills, will prepare Masters and their crews to manage large scale rescue operations safely and successfully.

The issues covered by the ICS Guidelines include the provision of additional Personal Protective Equipment for ship's crew and the safe management and accommodation of large numbers of people on board with an emphasis on sanitation, hygiene and ship security. The Guidelines also refer to the need for companies to take full account of crew welfare in the aftermath of a large scale rescue. The ICS Guidelines also contain useful references to relevant advice produced by the World Health Organization and the International Maritime Organization.

ICS also emphasises that Masters should not be expected to become involved in decisions about the legal status of the people they have rescued or whether they intend to apply for asylum.

"Notwithstanding the shipping industry's legal and humanitarian obligations to rescue people in distress at sea, it remains incumbent on the governments to find a solution to the current crisis which is placing a very difficult burden on ships' crews and the companies that have a duty of care for them." said Mr Hinchliffe, who will be participating at a high-level meeting on the migrants at sea crisis being hosted by the UNHCR in Geneva, in which the IMO Secretary-General will also be taking part.

 

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