Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW 6) (opening remarks)


(29 April to 3 May 2019)

Good morning Mme Chair, Excellencies, distinguished delegates.

I am pleased to welcome you all to the sixth session of the Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping. I extend a particular welcome to those of you who are attending the Sub-Committee for the first time.

I would like to take this opportunity to say a few words about this year's World Maritime Day theme "Empowering women in the maritime community" which recognizes the professional contribution of women to the maritime industry. The participation of women in the economy, political decision-making and society is key to addressing maritime challenges, but gender equality in the maritime sector is an issue which may be overlooked. The maritime sector needs "all hands on deck", both male and female, if it is to take on the challenges of carrying the world's goods in an efficient, safe and clean manner.
This year's World Maritime Day will be celebrated at IMO Headquarters on 26 September, and the annual parallel event will be organized by the Government of Colombia and held in Cartagena from 15 to 17 September.

Up to date, several events have been held to celebrate this year’s theme. These initiatives are generating a great momentum and attention towards the topic, and I would like to thank all the Governments who have promoted and contributed to these events.


Distinguished delegates,

It has always been my firm belief that the maritime sector, including shipping, ports and the people who operate them, can and should play a significant role in helping Member States to create the conditions necessary for increased employment, prosperity and stability ashore through the promotion of trade by sea; enhancing the port and maritime sectors as wealth creators both on land and, through the development of a sustainable blue economy, at sea.

We should be aware of, and recognize, the contribution of the Organization and the maritime sector to the world economy, through the development and effective implementation of international measures to further improve the efficiency of shipping. Shipping is the lifeblood of the global economy. Without shipping, international trade, the transport of raw materials, food and goods, would simply not be possible.


Turning now to the items on your agenda this week, I would like to highlight some of the key technical issues you will be considering.

At this session, your Sub-Committee will consider a number of substantive matters related to the Organization's work on model courses, which contribute significantly to the effective implementation of the STCW Convention.

You are also invited to explore options to address the challenges inherent in the general process to develop, revise and validate model courses.

Moreover, as requested by the Technical Cooperation Committee, you will be invited to give consideration to the possibility of converting existing model courses into e-learning courses.

Concerning unlawful practices associated with seafarers' certificates of competency and noting the large number of fraudulent certificates regularly reported by STCW Parties, I would urge you to consider a strategy to address the problem of fraudulent certificates of competency.

Given the sensitivity of, and the high-fatality rate in, the fishing industry, I would strongly encourage your Sub-Committee to expedite the work on the comprehensive review of the STCW-F Convention, and to devise a clear work plan to complete this output soonest possible.

The absence of international regulations for the safety of fishing vessels has prompted the Secretariat to convene a Ministerial Conference on Fishing Vessel Safety and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing, to be held in Torremolinos, Spain, from 21 to 23 October of this year. The aim is to promote the ratification and expedite the entry into force of the Cape Town Agreement of 2012 and deter IUU fishing, and I seek your support to achieve this objective.

Due to my professional background as a seafarer, Human Element issues are very close to my heart. In this context, I would like to pay tribute to the effort made by the Human Element Industry Group (HEIG) and its members in submitting a proposal to this session for a better structured approach to consider human element issues within IMO's regulatory process. I am very much looking forward to seeing the results of your consideration.

As you are well aware, multi-stakeholder partnership and coordination among UN agencies is an integral part of the Sustainable Development Goals. In this regard, you will be invited to devise a plan for the development of a new International Medical Guide for Ships in cooperation with ILO; and to consider the establishment of a joint ILO/IMO Working Group for the development of guidelines on the medical examination of fishing vessels' personnel.

Since the entry into force of the Manila Amendments on 1 January 2012, the Maritime Safety Committee has not reviewed as yet the list of Parties included in the initially established so called "White List" based on their continuous compliance, as required by the STCW Convention.

Driven by the responsibility for an effective implementation of the IMO instruments, embedded in our current Strategic Plan, the Secretariat has prepared a draft revised list of Parties that have provided evidence of compliance with the provisions of the Convention, for your consideration and advice to the Maritime Safety Committee on how to proceed with the matter.

I would like to reiterate my encouragement to STCW Parties to systematically communicate information to the Organization on the measures adopted to effectively implement the Convention requirements nationally.

I firmly believe that the work carried out by the HTW Sub-Committee, is of paramount importance to the work of this Organization and I am pleased to see that maritime administrations worldwide are showing an increased interest towards the Human Element issue.

Finally, I would also invite you to attend the "Scenario for Seafarers’ Mental Health Event", hosted by the Canadian High Commissioner, which will take place tomorrow, Tuesday, following the closure of your Sub-Committee's session. This event is intended to raise awareness of the mental health challenges faced by those who work at sea and to highlight what can be done to promote good mental health of seafarers. Furthermore, I would also like to invite you to a side event organized by ICS, BIMCO, INTERTANKO and WISTA International will also take place here on Wednesday afternoon to raise further awareness of the importance of this year's World Maritime Day theme.

I wish to thank the High Commissioner of Canada and ICS, BIMCO, INTERTANKO and Wista International for organizing these important events taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

Mme Chair, Excellencies, distinguished delegates,

I am confident that you will, as usual, tackle the tasks before you successfully, inspired by the customary IMO spirit of cooperation and under the capable leadership of your Chair, Ms. Mayte Medina of the United States, ably supported by your Vice-Chair, Ms. Farrah Fadil of Singapore, and the staff of the Secretariat. As always, I extend best wishes to all of you for every success in your deliberations.

Finally, as is customary, all of you are cordially invited to a cocktail reception hosted by me in the Delegates' Lounge this evening after the closure of today's session.

Thank you.