Public Consultation!! Your opinion counts!!
Let’s work together to make a difference for Cyprus, for shipping, and for our world.
Cyprus’ connection to the sea is fundamental to who we are both as a nation and an economy. We have a proud maritime history and are committed to ensuring this continues into the long-term future.To achieve this, we know we must continue to act and proactively drive progress on both a regional and international level. We also know that to lead effectively we must also listen, which is why we want to co-create a long-term strategic vision for Cyprus’ shipping, maritime, and marine-related activities.
To do this, we need to carefully consider the key challenges and opportunities facing us today and into the future, from multiple perspectives.
We are therefore asking you to share your thoughts and ideas.
Whatever your connection to us, we want to hear from you. If you are part of the global shipping community; if you belong to the maritime community based in Cyprus; or if you live in Cyprus and have views on marine-related activities – we value your opinions.
The Public consultation will take place in three phases:
1. Environmental sustainability – 7th April – 22nd April (you can still share your ideas in the following link / scroll down)
2. Digital transformation – 23rd April – 6th May
3. Global persisting challenges (Seafarers’ living and working conditions, crew changes and piracy and armed robbery) – 7th May – 20th May
GLOBAL PERSISTING CHALLENGES
Participate in the public consultation
is doing please scroll down
Global persisting challenges
(a) Social issues - seafarers’ living and working conditions, crew changes and seafarers’ vaccination
The Maritime Labour Convention 2006, as amended (MLC 2006), was adopted by the International Labour Organization to consolidate in a single multilateral treaty, and where possible to update, all the previous ILO standards which were addressing issues relating to seafarers, some of which had been adopted a decade before. Nowadays, the MLC 2006, which is in force in 97 countries, provides the acceptable standards for working and living on board.
Naturally, the international maritime community always desires to adopt improvements in the MLC 2006 and is presently discussing a variety of related matters which, inter alia include, the crew accommodation and recreation facilities, food and catering issues, medical care, the shipowners’ liability, health and safety protection and accident prevention, access to shore-based welfare facilities, social security, matters related to the MLC 2006 compliance and enforcement and issues which are related to instruments which have not been revised by the MLC, 2006 or, nowadays, are classified as “outdated”.
Further to the MLC 2006 issues, there are two problems which seafarers face because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which, hopefully, will not require the adoption of a specific long-term strategy but need to be discussed as they are foremost in the mind of seafarers.
Since March 2020, with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and whilst efforts continue to be made to ensure continuation of the seaborne world trade, crew changes have become exceedingly difficult and sometimes impossible. This situation is the result of differing national approaches towards the classification of seafarers as key workers, affecting their prioritization for vaccination, the different vaccines used by national authorities, the position of airlines and receiving countries regarding vaccination, etc. The crew change crisis, which regrettably is still unresolved and, in some places, shows signs of worsening, has become a humanitarian issue which has taken its toll on the mental and physical wellbeing of seafarers and their shore-side colleagues alike.
One cannot consider matters related to the vaccination of seafarers, without considering the need to put in place policies which ensure the continuation of the employment on board of the seafarers who, for whatever reasons, are unable to grant the voluntary inform consent which is a prerequisite to all vaccination or of those seafarers who for medical reasons cannot be vaccinated.
The situation is compounded by the fact that the international community and the various stakeholders are still discussing the development of possible strategies for the vaccination of seafarers.
The maritime transport industry is working hard to get seafarers universally recognised as key or essential workers; they are, after all, responsible for keeping global trade moving. However, until arrangements are made at global level of the vaccination of seafarers, crew change problems will persist.
What is Cyprus doing?
The track record of Cyprus clearly shows the significance and importance attributed to the social issues and to the conditions of working and living on board. Cyprus has been and remains open and willing to work with all the stakeholders in improving the MLC 2006 and it is sincerely hoped that the present discussions will come to fruition before the end of this year.
Cyprus, since the outbreak of the pandemic, was one of the first countries worldwide that recognised how instrumental to international trade seafarers are, assigned them key worker status, and proceeded to implement a formal crew change process. These measures resulted in over 12,000 seafarers being repatriated or able to return to work since May 2020. Cyprus continues to prioritise seafarer welfare and is keen to support a practical and coordinated solution to the ongoing crew change challenge.
Cyprus has also proposed, before the end of last year, a practical global approach to delivering COVID-19 vaccinations to seafarers in response to the worldwide crew change crisis. The essence of the approach, which is based on the duration and nature of the voyages, the availability of vaccines, the need to protect those on board and the population ashore from the risk of further transmission, does not interfere with each State’s national approach to vaccination, and presents an optimised approach to overcoming crew changes and onshore stranded seafarers issues. The suggested approach comprises two main strands:
For short sea shipping, for example for ships on voyages between nearby countries, national measures remain workable and only regional cooperation is necessary.
For deep sea shipping, vessels operating on long distance intercontinental routes should be designated as an isolated COVID-19 free zone; a “bubble”. The focus should therefore be on seafarers ashore. Cyprus suggests a coordinated global approach to ensure adequate numbers of approved or authorised vaccines, acceptable to all governments, are available to seafarers for inoculation in their country of residence before they travel to join their respective ships.
Cyprus proposal was presented at the 4th ILO Meeting of the Special Tripartite Committee of MLC and was adopted in the form of a Resolution concerning COVID-19 vaccination for seafarers. The said Resolution, among other things
Calls upon Members, in consultation and cooperation with shipowners’ and seafarers’ organizations, to carry out a mapping exercise, in order to assist with the procurement of adequate supplies of vaccines for the inoculation of seafarers in their country of residence or other appropriate location;
Calls upon all relevant UN bodies to recognize the need for a collective approach to secure the number of vaccines identified as being required by the mapping exercise;
Encourages governments, in consultation with shipowners’ and seafarers’ organizations and in coordination with the WHO and IMO, to consider the possibility of establishing an international programme for seafarers that will facilitate access to vaccination ashore, including where seafarers are joining or leaving a ship or taking shore leave;
Cyprus determination to support seafarers was praised by a great number of states worldwide and by the social partners.
(b) Piracy and armed robbery against ships
Since the 1980s IMO has adopted and updated several recommendations to Governments and guidance to shipowners and ship operators, shipmasters and crews on preventing and suppressing acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships and has established a special signal for use by ships under attack or threat of attack. In 1992 the ICC-IMB Piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was established.
Notable developments include:
The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia;
Revised Code of conduct concerning the repression of piracy, armed robbery against ships and other illicit maritime activity in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden Area signed in Djibouti and subsequently amended in Jeddah; and Code of Conduct concerning the Repression of Piracy, Armed Robbery against Ships, and Illicit Maritime Activity in West and Central Africa signed in Yaoundé, and the respective reporting and information sharing centres.
The Gulf of Guinea remains the global hotspot for acts of piracy and operating ships in this area presented a serious and persistent threat to the safety and security of crews and vessels. The international community, acting through IMO, repeated and stressed its advice and recommendations for the prevention and suppression of piracy, armed robbery against ships and illicit maritime activity in the Gulf of Guinea.
Unfortunately, despite the efforts of the international community the situation in the Gulf of Guinea, a vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean stretching from Senegal to Angola, continues to see severe exercise of violence resulting, comparatively with other regions, in higher loss of crew lives. Last year, the region accounted for 95% of the 135 seafarers seized worldwide in 22 separate incidents, according to the IMB-ICC.
What is Cyprus doing?
Whilst the international legal framework and the series of recommendation aimed to prevent and suppressed acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships is considered adequate, as a result of the situation off the coast of Somalia, Cyprus was one of the first countries in the world to adopt a comprehensive law in 2012 to protect Cyprus flag ships against acts of piracy and other unlawful acts. The law has a worldwide application, aims to enhance the security of ships which fly the Cyprus flag and, inter alia, regulates the presence on board and the assistance provided by trained and competent armed guards. In addition, the law set out two high risk areas namely, off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Guinea and provides the mechanism of declaring other risk areas when the circumstances warrant so.
Piracy and armed robbery against ships remains a persisting concern and Cyprus is strongly determined to work constructively with the United Nations system bodies, other States, the industry and all the relevant stakeholders to explore ways to tackle the issue in an effective way and to combat all forms of maritime crimes in in hotspots around the world.
We want to co-create our long-term maritime strategy with you. Please share with us any ideas, comments and suggestions that you have. Potential questions that you may wish to respond to include:
In your view, what else could be done by countries and industry to prevent and suppress acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships?
The Protection of Cyprus Ships Against Acts of Piracy and other Unlawful Acts Law of 2012 is very comprehensive and provides the foresight needed in combination with a mechanism which ensures speedy adaptability in the light of evolving circumstances. In your view, does the law need to be updated and if so, in what respect?
What are your views on the various issues which are being discussed with a view to improving the working and living conditions on board?
Are there any other aspects you will recommend including in the MLC 2006 for the purpose of ensuring the welfare of seafarers?
What are your views on the need for a global approach to the vaccination of seafarers and on Cyprus proposal which places emphasis on the vaccination of seafarers at their country of residence?
Please feel free to share any thoughts on efforts improve seafarer welfare, facilitated crew change or vaccinate seafarers.