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Philippines, Netherlands agree to boost maritime ties

PH, Netherlands agree to boost maritime ties
Genivi Verdejo March 22, 2023

THE Philippines and the Netherlands have agreed to bridge the gap and address issues in their maritime cooperation activities, as both countries recognized the importance of employing 10,000 seafarers for the Dutch fleet.

Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) Administrator Hernani Fabia said delegates from the Philippines and the Netherlands attended the 22nd Joint Committee on Maritime Affairs (JCMA) meeting to develop closer collaboration in maritime transport.

Paul van Gurp, from the Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (MinlenW), headed the Netherlands delegation.

The JCMA meeting was conducted to address the issues and concerns besetting the maritime industry and to map out action plans to mitigate the effects of potential risks and strengthen the maritime education, training, assessment and certification system of the country.

The Philippines is the primary source of seafarers for the Dutch fleet, currently employing more than 10,000 Filipino seafarers. The Netherlands is among the top 10 major employers of Filipino seafarers.

Recognizing the importance of the shipping sector in the Netherlands, van Gurp said close cooperation with other countries is needed, particularly the bilateral relationship with the Philippines which is highly valued throughout the maritime sector in their country.

"We assure you that the mutual understanding and cooperation between the two administrations will be instrumental. We value the JCMA meeting, which is a useful platform to establish where we stand, cherish the progress achieved and identify gaps that still have to be bridged. Doing these all in the spirit of friendship, mutual understanding and cooperation between our governments," van Gurp said.

Fabia discussed with van Gurp the actions that were taken to strengthen the country's implementation of the requirements of the STCW Convention, 1978, as amended, as well as the efforts to update the Maritime Industry Development Plan (MIDP).

"The active efforts of both parties throughout the years in addressing issues in the maritime industry and mapping out action plans to mitigate the effects of potential challenges is indeed commendable. As nations are emerging and recovering from the debilitating effects of the pandemic, we are pushing forward our strategic initiatives to uphold the sustainability of the maritime industry and improve the competencies of our seafarers," Fabia said.

Netherlands Ambassador to the Philippines Marielle Geraedts said, "At the embassy, we see it as a clear demonstration of strong bilateral ties and mutual interest in maritime cooperation. The Philippines is the only country where we have such a joint committee and that demonstrates the importance of who we are attached with."

The JCMA fostered productive discussions between the Philippines and the Netherlands, solidifying the ties between the two by sharing ideas, lessons, experiences and new knowledge. With this, both parties agreed to foster an open line of communication that has been maintained throughout the years and explore new and more beneficial avenues of cooperation between the two countries.

The JCMA is a testament to the strong and enduring relationship between the two countries, as they work together to promote maritime cooperation and mutual understanding.

During the 22nd JCMA meeting, they tackled maritime mental health and well-being; mutual voting for the International Maritime Organization (IMO) council membership; comprehensive review of the STCW Convention, 1978, as amended; state of play on EU recognition and continued inclusion in the IMO Whitelist.

They also discussed the development of maritime education in the Philippines; Palompon Institute of Technology updates; climate policies in IMO, particularly the IMO's GHG Strategy and Midterm Measures as well as Pathways for Decarbonization of the Maritime Transport Sector; and MIDP.

The Philippine delegation was composed of officials from the Department of Transportation, Department of Migrant Workers, Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Coast Guard, National Economic and Development Authority, Commission on Higher Education, and other government and private sector representatives. Transportation Undersecretary for Maritime Elmer Francisco Sarmiento also attended the meeting.

For the Netherlands, present were representatives from the MinlenW, Royal Association of Netherlands Shipowners (KVNR), the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the ICS Manning and Training Sub-Committee, as well as the NOVA College.