Is MLC Having Any Effect?

The following article was initially published in the Isle of Man Maritime Blog by Dick Welsh Director of Isle of Man Ship RegistryBack in August, the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) came into force, adding seafarers’ rights to existing IMO instruments covering safety, pollution prevention, and crew qualifications. The 30 countries that had already ratified the Convention could now carry out port state control inspections of ships visiting their ports, thereby raising the bar internationally and improving the situation for crew on board ships. But four months into the maritime industry’s newest international regime, have standards for seafarers really improved?

2014.01.08 - Is MLC Having Any Effect

On first glance, the answer seems to be ‘yes’. So far, 10 ships have been detained with deficiencies raised against the MLC. In the majority of cases, port state authorities were able to identify problems with the Seafarers’ Employment Agreements or issues with records for hours of rest. This is positive work, and if it continues we will see great strides in the right direction for the world’s 1.2 million seafarers.

But there are signs that all is not as it should be. UK port health authorities recently intervened on board a vessel that was fully certificated to confirm compliance with the MLC. However, inspectors found the situation on board to be far from compliant, with unhygienic galley conditions, rotten provisions and a cockroach infestation among the 12 deficiencies raised.

As Flag Administrations we have a responsibility to ensure this doesn’t happen. It is our Governments that have signed up to the Convention and it is beholden upon all of us to make sure we enact it in our national legislation and above all enforce it on our ships and ships visiting our ports.

Let us hope that as we move into a new year, flag states and port states become more engaged and work together to iron out inconsistencies and drive out sub-standard practices and operators to make a real difference for our seafarers.

Author - Dick Welsh, Isle of Man The article, reproduced here with the author’s kind permission, was written by Mr. Dick Welsh and was initially published in Isle of Man Maritime Blog. Dick Welsh is the Director of IOM Ship Registry at Isle of Man Government, a Marine and Mechanical Engineer with with over 30 years’ experience in the shipping industry. The Isle of Man Ship Registry stands in the world’s top 15 in terms of tonnage and the Isle of Man Red Ensign is becoming the flag of choice for an increasing number of quality ship owners and operators, attracting new tonnage from blue-chip clients around the globe.

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