ILO Meeting of Experts Concerning Convention No. 185


This week the Rev. Ken Peters (MtS) and Mr. Douglas Stevenson (SCI), went to the International Labour Organization in Geneva to represent ICMA in further discussions about ILO 185. Below is the text of Mr. Stevenson’s statement:

International Labour Organization
Meeting of Experts concerning Convention No. 185
(Geneva 4-6 February 2015)
Statement by Douglas B. Stevenson

International Christian Maritime Organization
4 February 2015

Thank you Madam Chair for giving the International Christian Maritime Association to speak at this important meeting of experts. Congratulations on your election to the Chair.
The world’s economy and prosperity depends on merchant shipping and merchant shipping depends on seafarers.
According to UNCTAD there are 39,770 ships over 1,000 gross tons in the world’s merchant fleet. The fleet is expected to grow to 69,000 ships by the end of the decade. The need to recruit and retain enough skilled seafarers to operate the vessels needed to sustain commerce remains shipping’s biggest challenge. All of us who depend on shipping must help make seagoing careers attractive options for skilled men and women.
The MLC, 2006 and ILO-185 are designed to improve seafarers’ living and working conditions and, if widely implemented, will go a long way towards making seagoing careers attractive.
The MLC, 2006 recognizes the importance of seafarers’ shore leave and their having access to onshore seafarers’ welfare facilities and services. The International Christian Maritime Association’s 28 member organizations operating in 126 countries provide the vast majority of the onshore seafarers welfare facilities and services contemplated by the MLC, 2006.
ILO-185 provides the means to facilitate seafarers’ shore leave and access to onshore seafarers’ welfare facilities and services. The International Christian Maritime Association, therefore, strongly applauds and supports efforts by nations and social partners to develop measures that will encourage wider ratification and implementation of ILO-185.
An important feature of ILO-185 is Article 6, which provides for countries to allow shore leave to seafarers holding valid Seafarer Identity Documents – without their having to also have a visa.
One of the International Christian Maritime Association member organizations has, since 2002, conducted annual surveys of shore leave denials in the United States. According to the data collected in recent years by port chaplains in ports around the United States, about 10% of the foreign seafarers on ships arriving at United States ports were denied shore. Of the 10% who were denied shore leave, about 90% of them were denied shore leave because they did not have a visa. (The United States requires seafarers and aircrews to have a D-1 crewmember visa as a condition of entry.)
If anyone wants a copy of the most recent survey please let me or Ken Peters know.
Ratification of ILO-185 by the United States could certainly improve shore leave opportunities for seafarers in United States ports – provided that the seafarers have valid Seafarers Identity Documents.
Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, few nations have issued to their seafarers valid Seafarers’ Identity Documents that could serve as a substitute for a visa.
The International Christian Maritime Association is hopeful that this Meeting of Experts will recommend amendments to ILO-185 that will facilitate its implementation.
In addition to facilitating shore leave and access to onshore seafarers welfare facilities and services, ILO-185 has the potential to greatly enhance security for seafarers and shipping. ILO-185 Seafarer Identity Documents will verify that the holders are legitimate seafarers who are entitled to the recognition and respect they deserve.
ILO-185 Seafarers Identity Documents will also identify seafarers as vital members of maritime security teams ,and they will help protect them from others who might pose as seafarers to do them and others harm.
ILO-185 is a very important convention for seafarers. It has the potential to provide seafarers greater protection and recognition, and it will help make seagoing careers more attractive options for skilled men and women by facilitating their access to onshore welfare facilities and shore leave.
The International Christian Maritime Association is hopeful that this Meeting of Experts will recommend measures that will encourage more countries to ratify ILO-185 and enable countries to implement it without reducing security or seafarers’ protections.
The International Christian Maritime Association delegation is here to assist the Meeting of Experts in any way that it can.

Memorial Service for loss of life at sea including those of the tragedy of the MV Cemfjiord

Sunday 18th January Rev Richard Kilgour, the General Secretary of ICMA plans to attend the memorial service to be held at the Episcopal Church of St John the Evangelist, Wick, Scotland. The service will include prayers in memory of those lost at sea. The Rev Tim Tunley Mission to Seafarers Scotland will also preach the sermon. Mr Kilgour who is presently based in Glasgow has emphasised that ‘standing in solidarity in this way is the least we can do at such a time as this with those who suffer the raw emotions of such loss’. ICMA members like the Mission to Seafarers and their fellow-workers in the world wide networks of seafarers’ welfare have responded once again to meet the needs of people affected by tragedy.

IMO announcement: World Maritime Day 2015
As the ICMA working-group on professional development bring forward comprehensive proposals for establishing an ‘Institute for Seafarers’ Welfare Studies’ it is a welcome announcement from the Secertary-General Koji Sekimizu of the IMO that this year training and education are themes for World Maritime Day. The press release reads:
“IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu has launched this year’s World Maritime Day theme, “Maritime education and training”, telling students and staff at the World Maritime University (WMU) that maritime education and training was essential for the long-term sustainability of the sector, both at sea and on-shore.

“Effective standards of training remain the bedrock of a safe and secure shipping industry, which needs to preserve the quality, practical skills and competence of qualified human resources,” Mr. Sekimizu said, adding that the 2015 World Maritime Day theme provided the opportunity to highlight the importance to everybody, not just within the shipping industry, of there being sufficient quantity and quality maritime education and training available to meet the sector’s needs, now and into the future. “

ICMA general Secretary Rev Richard Kilgour as a member of the working-group on professional development has commented ‘the themes for World Maritime Day are setting out to highlight the importance of the highest standards of education and training in the maritime world. The progress towards an Institute for Seafarers Welfare Studies is building upon the reputation of ICMA for delivering professional training and development at many levels for seafarer welfare practitioners.

IMO announcement of Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry – President of World Maritime University

ICMA welcomes the recent announcement from the IMO that Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry is to be the new President of the World Maritime University (WMU) from July 2015.
With her extensive experience with respect the formation and delivery of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006; Dr Doumbia-Henry clearly brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this new post. The significant level of world-class scholarship, learning and research provided by the WMU plays an essential role at the forefront of graduate studies in maritime life.
Fr Bruno Ciceri; chairman of ICMA comments on the announcement that ‘the reputation of the expertise and excellence of Dr Doumbia-Henry is known to many who have worked for many years with her in the area of maritime welfare and seafarers rights with particular regard to the Maritime Labour Conventions. We wish Dr Doumbia-Henry and the World Maritime University every success for the future.’

Announcement: ICMA Appoints New General Secretary

At its Executive Committee and Annual General Meeting in Copenhagen on September 20, ICMA was pleased to announce the appointment of a new General Secretary — the Very Rev Richard Kilgour, presently serving as Provost of the Episcopal Cathedral in Aberdeen, Scotland.  Mr. Kilgour will begin in January 2015.  A press release about this exciting appointment can be found here.

To watch a video interview of Richard, click above or here.

AGM & Consultative Forum Dates Announced

The 2014 Annual General Meeting and Consultative Forum will be held in Copenhagen Denmark. The dates are 19-20 September 2014. Participants will have opportunity to tour the Maritime Museum of Denmark in Helsingor, where the AGM meeting will be held. A Preliminary Schedule will begin at 1000 on 18 September with the Executive Committee meeting. AGM members are asked to arrive for lunch on 19 September. The AGM meeting will be held 20 September a the Maritime Museum. Registration information and materials are being sent to existing member contacts. Email if you need more information.


Upon hearing of the devastation ICMA members and chaplains continue to increased efforts to be present in centers and ports when a ship arrives. The ICMA Directory has been updated as information is received, and coordination of relief efforts began almost immediately.

The following items of information will be helpful to all ICMA members and centers.

1)     ISWAN will coordinate the response effort and liaise with maritime medics, ministers, those on the ground etc. & will circulate links to resources & information – see below. They have a dedicated page to keep up-to-date information as received.

2)     ICMA missions are encouraged, and most are, making free phone cards, internet, etc. available for Filipino seafarers to contact families. Mission to Seafarers, AoS, and Sailors’ Society were in communication immediately with their missions. ISWAN have secured grants to assist in the funding of free communication services for seafarers.

3)     Chaplains around the world are mobilized to offer a friendly ear and to talk to concerned seafarers who are worried about family and friends. Seafarers are encouraged to call mission centers. Many shipping companies are making extra opportunities to allow seafarers the time to talk.

4)     ICMA is coordinating the efforts of ICMA members.

5)     All are asked to encourage seafarers who may need to talk about their concerns to contact either SeafarerHelp helpline 0080073232737 or to contact the various missions in the respective ports. ICMA is updating the directory when information is received.

RESOURCES AVALIABLE: The following online resources are available for organizations and seafarers who need further information :

More information will be posted as received.

ICMA Northern Europe Region is meeting in Helsinki

ICMA2013ICMA chaplains from Finland, Denmark, Norway, Estonia, Poland and Germany are holding their regional conference in Helsinki/Finland these days. Yesterday a theological reflectionof the work and an introduction to cruise ships and cruise ship ministry was on the agenda. Today the focus is on MLC 2006 and a visit to the port of Tallin in Estonia.