Supporting Seafarers: resources and general information

Seafarers are a key part of the shipping industry, and they are at the heart of IMO’s activities. Seafarers and their relatives can find useful information and resources about their work and rights on this page.


Find all the resources and general information that IMO provides to support seafarers.

  1. I need help, who can I contact? 
  2. Who can I contact at IMO?
  3. What are IMO conventions regarding seafarers training and certification?
  4. What is IMO work regarding seafarer’s main issues?
  5. What is the just transition in maritime?
  6. What is the Maritime Labour Convention? How does it relate to IMO’s work?
  7. How is IMO supporting women in the maritime community?
  8. What are the international days of the Seafarers?
  9. What are IMO Awards and recognitions?
  10. IMO e-Learning and Training
  11. How do I get a fellowship for my studies?
  12. For more information about IMO

I need help, who can I contact?

SeafarerHelp, operated by International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN)


SeafarerHelp is a free, confidential, multilingual helpline, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

International Transport Workers' Federation Seafarers

The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) is an international trade union federation of transport workers' unions. One of the main aim of the ITF set out in its Constitution is to provide general assistance to transport workers in difficulty. 

For help please email or visit their ITF Seafarers Support Facebook page. For more information please visit

Maritime Knowledge Centre (MKC) - guide

The Maritime Knowledge Centre (MKC) guide identifies relevant information sources for and about seafarers. 

Who can I contact at IMO?

IMO's Seafarer Crisis Action Team (SCAT)

IMO's Seafarer Crisis Action Team (SCAT) has been working to help resolve individual cases, alongside other organizations. IMO's SCAT team contacts representatives from national governments, NGOs, trade unions or relevant associations, or orients seafarers towards the right organization, to find solutions. Read more about IMO's Seafarer Crisis Action Team: case studies here.

Seafarers and their relatives can contact the SCAT by sending an email to

What are IMO conventions regarding seafarers training and certification?

STCW Convention

The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978, as amended, prescribes minimum standards relating to training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers which countries are obliged to meet or exceed. Read more about Training and Certification here including a list to maritime administrations.

Maritime Training Institutes/courses

The International Maritime Organization does not approve any training courses or institutes. This is a privilege and responsibility of Member Governments who are Parties to the STCW Convention. The 1978 STCW Convention, as amended, requires that training leading to the issue of a certificate is continuously monitored through a quality standards system, which is part of an independent evaluation arranged by the corresponding authority of an STCW Party in accordance with the Convention requirements. Read more here.

STCW-F Convention

The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel (STCW-F), was adopted by IMO in 1995. This Convention generally applies to personnel of seagoing fishing vessels and, in particular, to skippers and officers in the deck department of fishing vessels of 24 metres in length and over, and officers in the engine department of fishing vessels of powered by main propulsion machinery of 750 kW propulsion power or more. Read more here


What is IMO work regarding seafarer’s main issues?

IMO is working in association with other organizations, such as the International Labour Organization (ILO), on main issues regarding seafarers. 

Abandonment affects real people, often leaving them in a desperate plight. IMO is continuing to focus its efforts on improving the situation usually through the diplomatic efforts of the Secretariat and the IMO Secretary-General. Abandonment of seafarers has been recognized as a serious issue.

Guidelines for port State and flag State authorities on how to deal with seafarer abandonment cases

The first meeting of a joint International Labour Organization (ILO)–International Maritime Organization (IMO) Tripartite Working Group (December 2022) adopted guidelines on how to deal with seafarer abandonment. Please read more here.

Please find more information: 

IMO adopted the Guidelines on fair treatment of seafarers in the event of a maritime accident. The objective of these Guidelines is to ensure that seafarers are treated fairly following a maritime accident and during any investigation and detention by public authorities and that detention is for no longer than necessary. The Guidelines were developed by a Joint Working Group on the subject with the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW 9) agreed to draft amendments to the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) Code, to prevent and respond to bullying and harassment in the maritime sector, including sexual assault and sexual harassment (SASH). 

The move follows the agreement by the MSC at its 105th session to instruct the HTW Sub-Committee to develop and finalize, as a matter of priority, relevant STCW training provisions in advance of the completion of the ongoing comprehensive review of the STCW Convention and Code.
It was agreed that, following approval by MSC 107 and consideration by the joint ILO/IMO Tripartite Working Group to Identify and Address Seafarers' Issues and the Human Element (JTWG), the draft amendments should be referred back to HTW 10 in early 2024 for final consideration, with a view to adoption at MSC 108. 

The new provisions will apply to all seafarers by means of amendments to the STCW Code, table A-VI/1-4 (Specification of minimum standard of competence in personal safety and social responsibilities), consisting of a new competence: Contribute to the prevention of and response to bullying and harassment, including sexual assault and sexual harassment. Read more here.

To provide better protection for seafarers and their families in case of personal injury or death of a seafarer, IMO adopted the Guidelines on Shipowners' Responsibilities in Respect of Contractual Claims for Personal Injury to or Death of Seafarers, developed in collaboration with ILO. The purpose of the Guidelines is to assist States, when establishing their national requirements, to identify the most crucial issues relating to the payment to seafarers of contractual claims for personal injury or death. The Guidelines recommend measures to be implemented by shipowners to ensure that there is an effective insurance cover or other financial security to provide full and prompt payment of such claims. The Guidelines also contain recommendations for certification and provide a model receipt and release form for such claims. These Guidelines are also suitable for fishing vessels. 

In addition, the 2014 amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006), which comes under the auspices of the International Labour Organization (ILO), require shipowners to have compulsory insurance to cover abandonment of seafarers, as well as claims for death or long-term disability of seafarers. These are based on guidelines which were developed by a joint IMO/ILO working group, which reported to both IMO's Legal Committee and ILO's governing bodies. Read more here

The STCW regulation VIII/1 (Fitness for duty) provides what each Administration shall do for the purpose of preventing fatigue. Also, the Guidelines for the development of tables of seafarers’ shipboard working arrangements and formats of records, of seafarers’ hours of work or hours of rest, jointly developed by IMO and ILO, are intended to assist competent authorities to develop tables of shipboard working arrangements and records of seafarers’ hours of work or hours of rest. Read more here.

The Guidelines on fatigue are composed of modules, addressing different interested parties. They were approved by MSC 100 in 2018. These guidelines were a revision of the previous Guidance on fatigue mitigation and management, approved by MSC in 2014. Read more here.

What is the just transition in maritime?

The Maritime Just Transition Task Force is looking at the maritime skills needed for a just green transition. Launched by IMO Secretariat, along with the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the United Nations Global Compact and the International Labour Organization (ILO), it the first global sectoral task force dedicated to a just transition. The aim is to ensure a people-centred transition to a zero carbon shipping industry. Read more here.

The Position Paper, Mapping a Maritime Just Transition for Seafarers, puts forward a 10-point action to achieve a Just Transition for seafarers. Download here or click on the picture below. 

What is the Maritime Labour Convention? How does it relate to IMO’s work?

The International Labour Organization (ILO)'s Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), 2006, MLC, 2006, is considered the fourth pillar of the international regulatory regime for quality shipping, complementing three key IMO treaties on safety of life at sea (SOLAS), training of seafarers (STCW) and marine pollution prevention, (MARPOL). The MLC, 2006 lays out requirements for payment of wages, leave, repatriation and medical care of seafarers, creating regulatory obligations for States, ship owners and operators.

Operating in a safer and more supportive working atmosphere boosts the ability of seafarers to avoid and respond to incidents at sea that could impact vessels and their crew, cargoes and the marine environment.

IMO and ILO have a close working relationship. This has included input into the 2014 amendments to the MLC related to financial security in the case of abandonment of seafarers.

The following guidelines have been developed through a joint IMO/ILO working group reporting to both IMO's Legal Committee and ILO's governing bodies:

In 2022, a joint ILO/IMO Tripartite Working Group to Identify and Address Seafarers' Issues and the Human Element (JTWG) was established. The December 2022 meeting adopted guidelines on how to deal with seafarer abandonment. 

The joint ILO-IMO Tripartite Working Group is scheduled to meet in 2023 to discuss bullying and harassment in the maritime sector, including sexual assault and sexual harassment (SASH), and to meet in 2024 to discuss fair treatment of seafarers detained on suspicion of committing maritime crimes. 

IMO and ILO regularly share information about issues of seafarer wellbeing and jointly maintain a database listing cases of seafarer abandonment. This cooperation has proven particularly relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic where both organizations worked closely together to address the crew change crisis and its consequences. Read more here

How is IMO supporting women in the maritime community?

Women in Maritime programme - "Training-Visibility-Recognition"

Within the framework of maritime development, and through its Women in Maritime programme, under the slogan: "Training-Visibility-Recognition", IMO has taken a strategic approach towards enhancing the contribution of women as key maritime stakeholders. IMO continues to support the participation of women in both shore-based and sea-going posts.

Maritime Speakers Bureau platform 

Women in maritime are encouraged to inspire, educate and engage audiences by registering as speakers on the new Maritime Speakers Bureau platform, launched by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Women's International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA International).

What are the international days of the Seafarers?

IMO marks several days and campaigns annually with events and social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagramcampaigns. To see a schedule of upcoming and past events, click here.  

International Day of the Seafarer – 25 June 

The Day of the Seafarer (25 June) aims at recognizing the unique contribution made by seafarers from all over the world to international seaborne trade, the world economy and civil society as a whole.

The day was established in a resolution adopted by the 2010 Diplomatic Conference in Manila to adopt the revised STCW Convention. The resolution "encourages Governments, shipping organizations, companies, shipowners and all other parties concerned to duly and appropriately promote the Day of the Seafarer and take action to celebrate it meaningfully".

International Day for Women in Maritime – 18 May

The IMO International Day for Women in Maritime is observed on 18 May every year. The day celebrates women in the industry and is intended to promote the recruitment, retention and sustained employment of women in the maritime sector, raise the profile of women in maritime, strengthen IMO's commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 (gender equality) and support work to address the current gender imbalance in maritime. 

World Maritime Day Theme – last Thursday of September each year

The World Maritime Day is a United Nations international observance day held on the last Thursday of September each year.  Every year, IMO selects a theme to focus attention on the importance of safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine and atmospheric pollution by ships, and to emphasize a particular aspect of IMO's work. 

What are IMO Awards and recognitions?

IMO Honours for Exceptional Bravery at Sea

The honours (the Award, Certificates of Commendation and Letters of Commendation) are awarded annually and were established by the Organization to provide international recognition for those who, at the risk of losing their own life, perform acts of exceptional bravery, displaying outstanding courage in attempting to save life at sea or in attempting to prevent or mitigate damage to the marine environment. Such acts of bravery may also involve extraordinary seamanship skills in very difficult conditions or any other display of outstanding courage.

Special recognition for merchant vessels and their crew involved in the rescue of mixed migrants at sea 

This form of recognition was established in 2015, at the twenty-ninth session of the Assembly, following the adoption of resolution A.1093(29) It is a commendation of the IMO Assembly, in the form of a certificate, for the bravery, professionalism and compassion displayed by crews of merchant vessels in the rescue of migrants around the world.

International Maritime Prize

The International Maritime Prize is awarded annually by the IMO Council to the individual or organization judged to have made the most significant contribution to the work and objectives of IMO.

IMO e-Learning and Training

Training, as part of IMO's Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP), plays an important role in the Organization's efforts to support the implementation of international maritime standards and build the capacities of Member States to effectively enforce IMO instruments. The IMO Technical Cooperation Division has embarked on transforming some existing IMO training material to e-learning courses to supplement the delivery of in-person technical cooperation activities, aiming at further enhancing the capacity-building capabilities of IMO Member States.

How do I get a fellowship for my studies?

Institutions IMO is offering fellowships for 

  • World Maritime University (WMU), Sweden
  • IMO International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI), Malta
  • L'Institut Portuaire d'Enseignement et de Recherche (IPER), France
  • International Maritime Safety Security and Environment Academy (IMSSEA), Italy

For more information on WMU and IMLI, click here.
For more information on IPER and IMSSEA, click here.

Gender-specific fellowships

  • Galilee International Management Institute (GIMI), Israel
  • L'Institut Portuaire d'Enseignement et de Recherche (IPER), France
  • Courses delivered in partnership with the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA), IALA WWA, France

For more information on gender-specific fellowships, click here.

For more information about IMO 

Please find more information about IMO on the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) here.