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Seafarers’ Day: Marina cites crew-change issue move

Seafarers’ Day: Marina cites crew-change issue move
Lorenz S. Marasigan June 26, 2020

THE Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) celebrated Seafarers’ Day on Thursday with its chief saying that his agency is now addressing crew-change issues, which the International Maritime Organization (IMO) stressed as a safety issue.

Marina Administrator Roberto A. Empedrad said to celebrate the international occasion, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has allowed international ships to do crew change in various Philippine ports.

“This will be beneficial to our seafarers who can do crew change in-country and come home earlier than expected,” he said.

To date, some 60,000 seafarers have already gone home to the Philippines, but Empedrad said, “hundreds of thousands of seafarers are still stranded on cargo and cruise ships for over a year now and may not even be replaced very soon because of travel restrictions imposed by countries.”

Nonetheless, he encouraged seafarers to “exercise their legal rights to stop working, as their overextended stay at sea poses extremely unsafe and dangerous conditions not only for themselves, but more importantly for shipping operations.”

Empedrad added that his group crafted “pragmatic measures…to alleviate the sad plight of our seafarers.”

These include the extension of the validity of Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) for six months “to ensure continuity of service on board,” and the approval of the conduct of training and assessment of seafarers after the lifting of the enhanced community quarantine in most parts of the country.