Category Archives: Advocacy

Petition to act on piracy: the last five weeks

Somali pirates' boat.  Source: Wikimedia Commons
Somali pirates' boat. Source: Wikimedia Commons

With only five weeks to go before the deadline, the petition to encourage international action on piracy has reached 300,000!

Jon Whitlow, ITF Seafarers Section, says:

This is a fantastic achievement, but we also need to remember that we only have five weeks to collect the remaining 200,000 signatures.

The situation in Somalia remains critical, with 351 seafarers and 16 ships being held in Somalia, some since October 2009.  Most recently, the Syria Star was fired on and hijacked and two crew members were injured before the ship was released.

Printable petition forms are available at www.endpiracypetition.org.  These PDFs can be emailed to ships, signed, scanned and returned to howard_penny@itf.org.uk.

The petition is now available to be signed on-line in Chinese, Russian and Spanish.  PDFs of the petition are available in these languages in addition to Japanese, German, and French.

Plans are being made for the presentation of the petition to the IMO General Secretary in London on World Maritime Day, 23 September 2010.  Supporters of the initiative are encouraged to organise local events to present the petition to their own governments.  The ITF can provide you with the package of signatures.

These final five weeks will be critical to the success of the petition, and we ask everyone to think about how they can contribute, says Whitlow.

ICMA members respond to piracy

The Executive Committee of the International Christian Maritime Association appreciates the great work being done by ICMA’s members to care for people affected by piracy.

The crew of the merchant vessel MV Faina stand on the deck after a U.S. Navy request to check on their health and welfare. November 2008.  Source: Wikimedia commons.
The crew of the merchant vessel MV Faina stand on the deck after a U.S. Navy request to check on their health and welfare. November 2008. Source: Wikimedia commons.

At its meeting in London, the Executive Committee commended the ongoing development of piracy response initiatives by ICMA members.

ICMA encourages its members to join forces in caring for seafarers and their families affected by piracy.  To achieve this, ICMA members are set to support the training of ship visitors on how best to care for seafarers exposed to piracy.

The crew of the Chinese fishing vessel Tian Yu held at gunpoint by Somali pirates. Source: Wikimedia commons.
The crew of the Chinese fishing vessel Tian Yu held at gunpoint by Somali pirates. Source: Wikimedia commons.

While the Deutsche Seemannsmission has launched a public awareness campaign, the Apostleship of the Sea in the Philippines has initiated care for the families of seafarers being held hostage.  The Mission to Seafarers has embarked upon training of their chaplains to ensure that their chaplains understand the effects of such traumatic events, and has  regularly invited other ICMA-members to participate.  ICMA’s Southern Africa Region, currently coordinated by the Sailors Society, devoted an entire conference to training for first responders to trauma.  The Seamen’s Church Institute of New York and New Jersey is currently hosting the only known research on how to respond specifically to seafarers who have been exposed to piracy.

In 2008, ICMA passed a resolution pledging its support for the care of seafarers affected by piracy.  Click here to see the resolution.

Disconcerting results of shore leave and port access poll

icma-logo-blue-small

ICMA’s poll of chaplains on seafarers’ shore leave and port access for ship visitors has revealed some disconcerting results.

Ports as far afield as Incheon and Durban, Tanjung Pelepas and General Santos City responded.

Shore leave denial

Respondents reported that in no fewer than 31% of the ports polled, seafarers were refused shore leave in the last three months.  Of those reporting denial of shore leave 25% cited the ISPS Code’s erroneous application and 41% referred to related visa issues as the primary causes.  Nationalities affected included Filippino, Sri Lankan, Pakistani, Chinese, Russian, Bangladeshi and citizens of Myanmar.

Welfare operators denied port access

Of the respondents 33% reported that chaplains and ship visitors were denied access to ports, 40% of these cases were due to the ISPS Code.  Those that do gain access to ports refer to rigorous procedures required to be followed in order to secure access.

Another 41% replied that while they were allowed through the port facility they were denied access to the ship.  Some 47% of these denials to board were due to the ISPS Code, it is believed.

Cruise liners pose a problem

Interestingly most of the respondents refer to these problems occuring when cruise ships visit ports

A meeting taking place on Wednesday 14 July 2010 will discuss these issues as part of the “Year of the Seafarer” campaign.

ICMA thanks all the participants who participated in the online poll.  This information is invaluable to the welfare of seafarers.

These statistics do not include the recently published survey of USA ports which you will find in the archived posts of this page.

Seafarers and Justice: a port chaplain’s story

Following our recent article by Canon Ken Peters on Justice for Seafarers, Rev Marge Lindstrom shares a real example of the role of port chaplains in defending the dignity of seafarers.

“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

Blessing onboard
Blessing onboard

Offering hospitality and doing justice go hand-in-hand and are the cornerstones of the work we have been given to do. Ninety percent of the goods consumed in the United States get there through the hard labor of mariners who are largely overlooked by the general public. An important task for chaplains and agencies in ministering to those we meet onboard ship is to make those invisible people visible. Advocacy remains crucial.

Two years ago, as a port chaplain with the Seamen’s Church Institute, I was asked to visit a ship that was berthed at dry dock in Bayonne, New Jersey. We had received a call from the fitter’s sister claiming he had sustained a severe injury at sea and would we please investigate? Continue reading Seafarers and Justice: a port chaplain’s story

SCI of New York and New Jersey and the Episcopal Church publish video on piracy

episcopal-churchICMA member the Seamen’s Church Institute of New York and New Jersey (SCI) has collaborated with the Episcopal Church in publishing an online video on piracy.  The video features the SCI’s recent initiative to research the psychological impact of piracy on survivors.   The SCI’s research is intended to guage the appropriate medical care of seafarers after pirate attacks and hostage-taking.

Click here to watch the video: http://www.seamenschurch.org/multimedia/534-wading-in-the-waters

ICMA members are reminded that the SCI had previously invited chaplains to pass on information of piracy survivors who have agreed to participate in the research.

Hennie la Grange

International Year of the Seafarer: securing justice

In the second of our series of specially commissioned articles marking International Year of the Seafarer, Reverend Canon Ken Peters reflects on the role of maritime ministry in securing justice for seafarers.

Rev Canon Ken Peters
Rev Canon Ken Peters

It is so appropriate that 2010 is designated by the UN – IMO as the Year of the Seafarer. This is because so much progress has been made in the protection and support of seafarers in so many areas that used to fall far short of acceptable standards. The efforts of the international community to address the blight of piracy, to conduct research into the effects of fatigue, to work intensely to ensure the fair treatment of seafarers following injury or abandonment and of course, the success of the ILO in adopting the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 with its entry into force no later than 2011, affirm seafarers in the dignity of their profession.

Continue reading International Year of the Seafarer: securing justice

SCI invites chaplains to help in its study of how piracy affects seafarers

The Manhattan offices of Seamen's Church Institute of New York and New Jersey, New York, NY USA.
The Manhattan offices of Seamen's Church Institute of New York and New Jersey, New York, NY USA.
Douglas B. Stevenson at ILO
Douglas B. Stevenson at ILO

ICMA member, the Seamen’s Church Institute of New York and New Jersey (SCI) has commenced a study of the traumatic effects of piracy on seafarers.  A preliminary report has been published.  (To read the report, Post Piracy Trauma Assessment and Treatment, best practices for the maritime shipping industry, use the link at the bottom of this article.) The research is directed at health professionals and is intended to initiate new medical procedures in assessing seafarers after pirate attacks.

The work of the SCI follows ICMA’s resolution on piracy.  ICMA members are committed to support and initiate appropriate care for the survivors of maritime piracy.

SCI’s paper will inform discussion on piracy when the Maritime Safety Committee of the International Maritime Organisation meets in May.  The IMO has published an advance paper quoting ICMA in paragraph 10.

Click here to read the IMO paper and more on the ICMA piracy webpage.

Douglas Stevenson, ICMA chairman and director of the Center for Seafarers’ Rights which is linked to SCI, writes here asking ICMA members and chaplains for help to establish contact between seafarers and the researchers:

Dr Michael Stuart Garfinkle, a clinical psychologist, is beginning fieldwork in Port Newark, New Jersey where he will interview seafarers in order to better understand the “normal stress” of being a seafarer and the “added stress” of working in known zones of piracy. At the same time, interviews will be conducted with seafarers from around the world by Internet or telephone in order to maximize participation and the reach of this study. The aim of this study is to develop a program that is tailored to the specific needs of seafarers. Continue reading SCI invites chaplains to help in its study of how piracy affects seafarers