November 25th, 2011

European Union ruling on Filipino Seafarers to come out next month

Manila, Philippines – Filipino seafarers are keeping their fingers close as the European Union is set to make a decision next month whether they would allow Filipino seafarers to be hired by EU shipping companies in the future.

The EU reported in 2009 that the Philippines’ implementation of the STCW, an International Maritime Organization (IMO) Convention adopted by the EU, was not enough and warned that Filipino Seafarers can possibly be banned from EU owned ships.

If the ban pushes through, thousand of freshly minted Filipino maritime officers would face a difficult situation and have a limited option in terms of employment. However, Filipino seafarers are not alone in facing a difficult dilemma as EU ship owners would also be negatively affected if they won’t be able to hire Filipino crew members especially that there has already been a shortage of hiring options in the industry.

The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) conducted its own investigation after the negative report as they checked various maritime schools in the Philippines. The investigation lead to the discovery of gross deficiencies on some of the courses offered in some maritime schools in the Philippines.

EMSA reported a total of 15 schools having insufficient training and unable to comply with international standards. For the part of the Philippines, the country’s Commission on Higher Education (CHED) closed down schools that were not able to comply with International training standards. The closure of maritime schools recently included two schools that caused first and second year students to transfer to a more capable maritime school.

However, International Maritime Employers’ Committee secretary General Giles Heimann is optimistic about the steps being taken by the Philippine government to comply with International training standards.

According to Heimann, CHED is doing the right thing by targeting the underperforming maritime schools, as they are the schools that give the negative notion that Filipino seafarers are inadequately trained. He further explained that there are some very good schools that provide good-quality training and good-quality seafarers in the Philippines which is why the country is world leader in terms of the number deployed seafarers in the maritime industry.