Major revisions to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (the STCW Convention), and its associated Code have been adopted at a Diplomatic Conference in Manila, the Philippines, thereby ensuring that the necessary global standards will be in place to train and certify seafarers to operate technologically advanced ships for some time to come.
The Conference was held in Manila from 21 to 25 June under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution from ships.
The amendments, to be known as “The Manila amendments to the STCW Convention and Code” are set to enter into force on 1 January 2012 under the tacit acceptance procedure and are aimed at bringing the Convention and Code up to date with developments since they were initially adopted in 1978 and further revised in 1995; and to enable them to address issues that are anticipated to emerge in the foreseeable future.
Amongst the amendments adopted, there are a number of important changes to each chapter of the Convention and Code, including:
• Improved measures to prevent fraudulent practices associated with certificates of competency and strengthen the evaluation process (monitoring of Parties’ compliance with the Convention);
• Revised requirements on hours of work and rest and new requirements for the prevention of drug and alcohol abuse, as well as updated standards relating to medical fitness standards for seafarers;
• New certification requirements for able seafarers;
• New requirements relating to training in modern technology such as electronic charts and information systems (ECDIS);
• New requirements for marine environment awareness training and training in leadership and teamwork;
• New training and certification requirements for electro-technical officers;
• Updating of competence requirements for personnel serving on board all types of tankers, including new requirements for personnel serving on liquefied gas tankers;
• New requirements for security training, as well as provisions to ensure that seafarers are properly trained to cope if their ship comes under attack by pirates;
• Introduction of modern training methodology including distance learning and web-based learning;
• New training guidance for personnel serving on board ships operating in polar waters; and
• New training guidance for personnel operating Dynamic Positioning Systems.
In addition to two resolutions adopting the aforesaid amendments, the Conference also adopted resolutions on:
- Expression of appreciation to the host Government;
- Transitional provisions and early implementation;
- Verification of certificates of competency and endorsements contained;
- Standards of training and certification and ships’ manning levels;
- Promotion of technical knowledge, skills and professionalism of seafarers;
- Development of guidelines to implement international standards on medical fitness for seafarers;
- Revision of existing model courses published by the International Maritime Organization and development of new model courses;
- Promotion of technical co-operation;
- Measures to ensure the competency of masters and officers of ships operating in polar waters;
- Attracting new entrants to, and retaining seafarers in, the maritime profession;
- Accommodation for trainees;
- Promotion of the participation of women in the maritime industry;
- Future amendments and review of the STCW Convention and Code;
- Contribution of the International Labour Organization;
- Role of the World Maritime University and IMO International Maritime Law Institute and International Maritime Safety, Security and Environment Academy (IMSSEA) in promoting enhanced maritime standards;
- Year of the Seafarer; and
- Day of the Seafarer.
Speaking at the close of the successful Conference, IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos said that the adoption of the revised STCW had brought to a successful conclusion the concerted effort undertaken by so many – Government and industry alike, dedicated seafarer representative bodies, maritime training institutions, and the many other interested organizations – over a four-year period.
“The immediate task at hand is to promulgate the standards of maritime excellence we have just come to adopt amongst those working at the sharp end of the industry and to promote their proper implementation and enforcement through the usual means of enacting legislation and introducing enabling measures in maritime administrations and training establishments,” Mr. Mitropoulos said.
“I would suggest that the successful closure of the Conference should be seen as marking the beginning of strenuous efforts at three levels: first, to commence, at the earliest possible opportunity, work to translate the revised STCW requirements into national regulations – with the aim of expediting their implementation; second, to deliver, as appropriate, technical assistance through IMO’s Integrated Technical Co-operation Programme – with the aim of familiarizing STCW Parties with the revised requirements, and to provide useful technical advice on the STCW Convention and the STCW Code as a whole; and third, to initiate action, as may be necessary, to ensure the full and effective implementation and rigorous enforcement of the revised STCW Convention and Code when the amendments come into force on the agreed date of 1 January 2012,” Mr. Mitropoulos added.
The Conference has been a key highlight in the IMO-designated “Year of the Seafarer”, which aims to provide the maritime community with an opportunity to pay tribute to seafarers from all over the world for their unique contribution to society and in recognition of the vital part they play in the facilitation of global trade in a hazardous environment.
The Diplomatic Conference was held from 21 to 25 June 2010 in Manila, the Philippines with the support of the government of the Philippines and was attended by more than 500 delegates from delegations from 85 IMO Member States, as well as by observers from three Associate Members, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the European Commission (EC) and one other intergovernmental Organization; and 17 non-governmental organizations.
IMO – the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.
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