It has been reported in FTW Online and Terry Hutson’s Africa Ports & Ships Newsletter that the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) issued a circular in February expressing its intention to remove from its register or “White List”, all countries that are non-compliant with the International Convention of Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping for Seafarers (the STCW Convention). The circular included a list reflecting that as many as 87 countries, including South Africa, would be affected.
The STCW Convention sets minimum qualification standards for masters, officers and watch personnel on seagoing merchant ships and large yachts. According to the IMO, the main purpose of the Convention is “… to promote safety of life and property at sea and the protection of the marine environment by establishing in common agreement international standards of training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers.”
No date has been set for implementation of the action.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is the agency responsible for South Africa’s compliance with the STCW Convention and similar instruments. In a statement issued on 2 May, SAMSA acting Chief Executive Mr Sobantu Tilayi confirmed that SAMSA is extremely concerned by the development, which has major implications for South Africa’s maritime sector. Mr Tilayi stated that that SAMSA has a serious situation on its hands and although it should never have found itself in this position, he expressed confidence that SAMSA will act with speed and correctly to ensure that the intended action by the IMO is not finalised to South Africa’s disadvantage.
The planned response action plan involves three broad activities: the securing of IMO assistance with compilation of the report required in terms of the STCW Convention, the hastening of a SAMSA process setting in place a relevant quality management system and constant engagement with stakeholders.