Industry GRP hails E.C. move on PHL seafares


THE European Maritime Group lauded the decision of the European Commission to continue recognizing Filipino Seafarers’ Certificates, which the group said will ensure the stability of employment for Filipino seafarers.

“The decision of the European Commission to continue recognizing Filipino seafarer certificates presents a very positive development in the Philippine Maritime Industry,” Tore Henriksen, Chairperson of the Joint Maritime Committee said in a statement on Thursday.

It is “commendable,” added Henriksen, that Philippine authorities have taken necessary steps toward complying with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), and demonstrated their commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of Filipino seafarers who, he said, contribute “significantly” to the global shipping industry.

The Joint Maritime Committee is represented by the Dutch Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce, the Nordic Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines and the Philippines-Norway Business Council.

The Joint Maritime Committee together represents the interests of a “large segment” of the maritime private sector community of Europe.

Last March 31, after a 15-month review, the European Commission decided to continue recognizing certificates for seafarers issued by the Philippines, which it said is one of the world’s largest maritime labor supply countries.

According to an earlier report by BusinessMirror, the Philippines is the largest maritime labor supplier in the world, with 345,000 deployed in 2022. They remitted around US$ 6.7 billion or around P341 billion in 2022.

Of these seafarers, around 50,000 are masters, officers and crew on board cargo ships, cruise ships, yachts and other vessels of Greece, Norway, Germany and Malta. Moreover, industry estimates that one in every five foreign seafarers on EU-flagged vessels is a Filipino.

The EC Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport said the Philippine government showed “serious efforts to comply with the requirements” of the international standards on basic safety training courses.

In December 2021, following a detailed assessment of the training and certification system in place, the Commission informed the Philippines that recognition of their seafarer certificates would be withdrawn unless serious measures were taken, including the compliance with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for seafarers.

This, after the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) carried out an inspection of the maritime education, training and certification system of the Philippines for its seafarers between February 24 and March 12,2020.

According to its December 20,2021 audit report, EMSA found “deficiencies” in the compliance of the Philippines with the STCW. These deficiencies include monitoring, supervision and evaluation of training and assessment, among others.

This threatened the employment of the Filipino seafarers of EU-flagged shipping firms.

Following the Commission’s decision to continue to recognize the certificates of Filipino seafarers, the Philippine government through Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista committed to address the “remaining areas identified that require further improvement.” “Rest assured we will not waver in our efforts to raise the level of expertise of our seamen to international standards,” Bautista said.