Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW 7), 15 – 19 February 2021

Certification of Seafarers – correspondence group established  

The HTW Sub-Committee considered challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic by seafarers and Member States with regards to certification and training, and established a correspondence group, due to report to the Maritime Safety Committee in October 2021 (MSC 104), to develop guidance to harmonize the measures to be adopted by both flag and port States, and to address adverse effects of the measures adopted so far.  

The focus of this group includes issuance and renewal of seafarers’ certificates and documents, and extensions of validity beyond the regime established in the 1978 STCW Convention. The group will also identify hurdles to the provision of continued professional competence through refresher training.  

Implementation of STCW Convention – action plan agreed  

During the session, a working group was established to discuss implementation of the 1978 STCW Convention, including matters related to the list of confirmed Parties (“White List”).  

The Sub-Committee highlighted the need to ensure confidence in the “White List”, facilitate appropriate knowledge and understanding of the STCW Convention, and also ensure that competent persons have appropriate skills and experience to undertake the tasks emanating from the Convention. 

In this regard, the Sub-Committee noted a list of gaps and areas for further consideration regarding the communication of information system and endorsed an action plan for enhancing it. A correspondence group was subsequently established to develop related guidance and consider the need for training of Parties and competent persons. 

The referred guidance should assist with the preparation, submission and review of reports for the communication of information in accordance with STCW regulations I/7 and I/8, including terms of reference for the independent evaluators.  

Strategic direction on human element agreed  

The HTW Sub-Committee agreed on the need to include a specific strategic direction on the human element in the Organization’s Strategic Plan at the earliest opportunity. (The current Strategic plan can be found here 

This was agreed based on the relevance of the human element for the work of the Organization, which has been made particularly evident in the context of the global crisis stemming from the pandemic. The Maritime Safety Committee was invited to discuss this matter at its spring session. 

Joint working group on the human element 

The Sub-Committee noted that the IMO Legal Committee had agreed to urgently request the Special Tripartite Committee of MLC, 2006, to authorize the establishment of an ILO-IMO tripartite working group to identify and address seafarers’ issues and the human element, which would need to be endorsed by the ILO Governing Body during its meeting in November 2021 It was also noted that the Legal Committee had invited MSC to make a similar request to the IMO Council  

Comprehensive review of STCW-F Convention continued  

The Sub-Committee continued working on the comprehensive review of the STCW-F Convention and agreed, in principle, to a number of draft provisions, including medical standards, the definition of “limited waters”mandatory requirements for certification of engineer officers and radio operators, revalidation of certificates and provisions on basic trainingThe work plan for completion of the review was also updated with the goal of finalizing the draft amendments for adoption in 2024 

The Sub-Committee noted the postponement of the joint ILO/IMO Working Group for the development of guidelines on the medical examination of fishing vessel personnel to the 2022-2023 biennium, which was intended to be held in 2021. This will be considered by MSC 103 with a view to approval.  

Further work will continue on matters such as sustainable fisheries training; engineering watchkeeping provisionsand a draft resolution addressing training on response against piracy and armed robbery for skippers, officers and engineer officers of fishing vessels entering high-risk areas. 

Non-SOLAS ships in polar waters – draft guidelines agreed  

The Sub Committee agreed on training related text in draft guidelines for fishing vessels of 24 m in length and over operating in polar waters. The guidelines were developed by the SDC Sub Committee and will now be submitted to MSC 103 with a view to approval 

First remote meeting 

This was the first remote session ever of any IMO sub-committees and posed serious challenges associated with its online nature, which could be overcome thanks to the collaborative spirit of delegations participating in the meeting