IMO welcomes landmark Maritime Labour Convention ratifications
IMO has welcomed the landmark ratifications of the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s Maritime Labour Convention, which will bring the treaty into force in 12 months’ time, establishing minimum requirements for almost all aspects of working conditions for seafarers.
“This is great news for the world’s more than 1.2 million seafarers,” said Dr. Rosalie Balkin, Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the Legal Affairs and External Relations Division of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), ILO’s sister UN agency, which has responsibility for maritime safety and security, the prevention of marine pollution from ships and seafarer training standards.
“Alongside IMO’s main international treaties covering safety and security, prevention of pollution and training of seafarers, the MLC Convention represents the ‘fourth pillar’ of maritime regulation covering international shipping, which transports more than 90 per cent of world trade, and on which we all rely“ Dr. Balkin said, referring to IMO’s International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) and the International Convention for the Training, Certification and Watchkeeping of Seafarers (STCW). These three IMO treaties were first adopted in the 1970s and have each been ratified by more than 150 countries, representing more than 99 per cent of world merchant shipping.
The MLC Convention covers conditions of employment, hours of work and rest, accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering, health protection, medical care, welfare and social security protection. Parties to the treaty must ensure that ships flying their flag meet ‘decent work’ requirements set out in the Convention, and certify that those ships comply with the requirements relating to labour conditions. IMO’s STCW Convention was revised in 2010 and includes mirror provisions to the MLC requirements on such issues as hours of work and rest, where the two treaties overlap.
Six month drop in world piracy, IMP report shows
The number of pirate attacks have fallen sharply in the first half of 2012, led by a drop in Somali piracy, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) global piracy report revealed recently, but warned that these numbers were offset by a worrying increase of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea.
Overall, 177 incidents were reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) in the first six months of 2012, compared to 266 incidents for the corresponding period in 2011.
The report showed that 20 vessels were hijacked worldwide, with a total number of 334 crew members taken hostage. There were a further 80 vessels boarded, 25 vessels fired upon and 52 reported attempted attacks. At least four crew members were killed.
The decrease in the overall number is primarily due to the decline in the incidents of Somali piracy activity, dropping from 163 in the first six months of 2011 to 69 in 2012. Somali pirates also hijacked fewer vessels, down from 21 to 13. Nonetheless, Somali piracy continues to remain a serious threat.
“Somali pirate attacks cover a vast area, from the Southern Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Gulf of Oman to the Arabian Sea and Somali Basin, threatening all shipping routes in the North West Indian Ocean,” said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB, which has been monitoring world piracy since 1991.
The report, in part, has attributed the noticeable decline in Somali piracy to the pre-emptive and disruptive counter piracy tactics employed by the international navies. This includes the disruption of mother vessels and Pirate Action Groups.
“The naval actions play an essential role in frustrating the pirates. There is no alternative to their continued presence,” said Mr. Mukundan.
The effective deployment of Best Management Practices, ship hardening and, in particular, the increased use of Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel (PCASP), has also contributed to the falling numbers.
The decline in Somali piracy, however, has been offset by an increase of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, where 32 incidents, including five hijackings, were reported in 2012, versus 25 in 2011. In Nigeria alone there were 17 reports, compared to six in 2011. Togo reported five incidents including a hijacking, compared to no incidents during the same time last year.