Fair treatment of seafarers

Overview

BIMCO's position on "fair treatment of seafarers" has been approved by the BIMCO Board of Directors.

Background

There is no single instrument dealing with fair treatment of seafarers. Fair treatment of seafarers in the event of a maritime accident is addressed in guidelines developed by a Joint IMO/ILO Ad Hoc Expert Working Group in 2006. Mandatory provisions on fair treatment of seafarers are included in the 2010 IMO Casualty Investigation Code (CIC), the 2006 ILO Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Unfair treatment of seafarers can take many forms. There is a risk of unfair treatment of seafarers when incidents take place that involve for example pollution from ships or smuggling. This is the case even though very few incidents involve intentional or grossly negligent behaviour of seafarers. Other kinds of unfair treatment can relate to the attitude of port state control officials towards ships’ crew and abandonment of seafarers. Cases exist where the crew has done nothing wrong but is still exposed to unfair treatment.

Unfair treatment incidents have an unacceptable impact on the seafarers involved. These incidents also have a damaging effect to the image of the shipping industry and its ability to attract and retain qualified seafarers.

BIMCO’s position

  • BIMCO promotes fair treatment of seafarers in all respects, in line with the 2006 IMO/ILO Guidelines on fair treatment of seafarers and the 2010 IMO CIC, containing mandatory provisions to observe when obtaining evidence from seafarers. 
  • BIMCO is opposed to liability regimes, which include presumption of guilt rather than innocence of seafarers, and legislation that makes an act illegal retroactively.
  • It is essential that states meet their international obligations under UNCLOS, including article 230 barring states from imprisoning seafarers serving on board foreign ships except in cases of wilful and serious acts of pollution within their territorial waters.
  • BIMCO fully supports the 2006 ILO MLC and its provisions relevant to fair treatment. BIMCO also supports amendments to the MLC, which entered into force in January 2017, ensuring better protection of seafarers and their families in case of abandonment, death or long-term disability.  

 

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