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Gov't urged to set long-term solutions on maritime industry's problems after EU decision

Gov't urged to set long-term solutions on maritime industry's problems after EU decision
April 4, 2023

Senator Imee Marcos on Tuesday urged the government to act promptly and provide long-term solutions to the problems in the country’s maritime industry following the European Union’s (EU) decision to continue recognizing the certificates for seafarers issued by the Philippines.

In a statement, Marcos, chairperson of the Senate foreign relations committee, said the ongoing labor shortage in the world’s maritime industry might be the reason behind the EU’s decision.

She mentioned a forecast which indicated that global seafarer shortage might reach almost 90,000 by 2026.

With no end in sight to the conflict in Eastern Europe, Marcos said the EU’s usual supply of seafarers remain uncertain.

“It's a blessing in disguise that allows us to breathe a collective sigh of relief, but this is no time for complacency… This crisis can indeed be an opportunity for the government to increase Filipino employment abroad which significantly contributes to the country's foreign currency reserves. But the government must first reckon with how the Philippine maritime industry has come to such a sad state,” Marcos said.

The lawmaker then suggested an agreement with maritime countries that will offer Filipino seafarers educational and technical assistance.

“One long-term solution to make Filipino seafarers more competitive is to negotiate a reciprocal arrangement of educational and technical assistance from maritime countries for potential hands on deck from the Philippines. Maritime schools need to be equipped with more simulators and update training onboard,” she said.

While Filipino seafarers are in demand and may make up about 20% of seafarers on EU ships, Marcos said preserving their jobs and creating new ones “will depend on the government’s prompt and consistent action.”

Apart from Marcos, three other senators — Risa Hontiveros, Grace Poe and Joel Villanueva — have called for continuous skills training and reforms in the maritime industry.

The EU announced their decision months after it warned Filipino maritime workers may be banned from its vessels following the country’s repeated failure to hurdle the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA)’s evaluation in the past 16 years. —Hana Bordey/KBK, GMA Integrated News