There is a need for ‘Seafarers Standing Committee’ at the International Maritime Organization, as well as better access to data by flag states on rates of illness, suicide and deaths on board, Clay Maitland, head of International Registries Inc., said while speaking at London International Shipping Week’s inaugural ‘Big Maritime Welfare Debate’ on Tuesday 8 September.
He also called for the UK government in particular to take a lead role in determining how best to protect seafarers’ rights.
“When it comes to seafarers’ rights, flag states are in a darkened room,” said Maitland. “There is no database to refer to in advocating for the seafarer, but if that information was out there the political pressure would then be there to support the seafarer.”
The event was a collaborative effort by the four maritime welfare charities benefiting from LISW15 – Seafarers UK, Mission to Seafarers, Sailors’ Society and Apostleship of the Sea – and was hosted at the Willis Building auditorium with 150 in attendance. Each of the four panel discussions was chaired by one of the charities.
Clay Maitland went on to say that the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) was already out of date, that connectivity at sea needed to be addressed, and that action on seafarer rights was unlikely until the abuse of many of the world’s crews was highlighted more effectively. He then joined a panel discussion chaired by Barry Bryant, Director General of Seafarers UK, and including Per Gullestrup of Clipper Group, Grahaeme Henderson of Shell and David Hammond of Human Rights at Sea that debated whether the industry was yet going far enough to ensure the physical and psychological health of our seafarers.
The Mission to Seafarers’ the Revd. Canon Ken Peters chaired a debate on whether there was such a thing as fair treatment for seafarers. Martin Foley of the Apostleship of the Sea chaired a discussion on the MLC and the reality of its impact on the welfare of seafarers. A panel, chaired by Stuart Rivers of the Sailors’ Society, then looked at the impact of technology on the future provision of welfare services to seafarers.