IMO in love with its own rhetoric
Posted on Friday 24th October 2014

Detail of 1889 Italian fresco, Cicero Denounces Catiline

IMO officials should slow down on the rhetoric. Speaking on 20th January 2014 at the opening of the first session of the Sub-committee on Ship Design and Construction, Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu declared: “I have my targets to eliminate piracy and reduce maritime casualty by half and I will maintain these targets this year as well.” Honestly speaking, we didn’t know that IMO has been leading the anti-piracy campaign. As for maritime accidents, isn’t Mr Sekimizu being overly ambitious?
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Maritime espresso shots on Facebook
Posted on Wednesday 22nd October 2014


Although Marine Café Blog has gained a pretty wide readership since it started in August 2009, we sometimes find it necessary to amplify our views on various maritime subjects. What better way to do so than through social media? Below are some digital picture cards we’ve recently shared on Facebook. They contain aphorisms based on our blog posts — the equivalent of espresso shots, served hot and strong.
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Four obstacles to Filipino STCW reform
Posted on Monday 20th October 2014


After four inspection visits over an eight-year period, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) team must be wondering why it’s been so difficult for Filipinos to put their house in order vis-a-vis the STCW Convention. We ourselves have long ceased to wonder. Four main factors stand in the way of deep and lasting reforms.
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Today’s sailors, hooked on technology?
Posted on Wednesday 15th October 2014

Book frontispiece of The light of navigation, 1608 sailing handbook

The sailors of old relied on the heavenly bodies to navigate using instruments that seem primitive by today’s standards – compass, hourglass, celestial globe, jacob’s staff and mariner’s astrolabe. Back then, it was seamanship that mattered most, not technology. How times have changed!
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EU ruling on Filipino crews is overdue
Posted on Sunday 12th October 2014


This month, inspectors from the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) once more visited the Filipino seafarer factory. They had previously conducted inspections in 2006, 2010 and 2013. So it’s their fourth time to check if the world’s top crew supplier is conforming to the STCW Convention. This cannot go on forever. The European Commission has to decide finally on whether or not to continue recognising, for the standard period of five years, crew certificates issued by Manila.
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Celebrating maritime paintings of old
Posted on Friday 10th October 2014


It’s sad that maritime art has not received from the maritime press the attention it deserves. We aren’t surprised, though. The shipping industry itself is too preoccupied with money to care much about such things. And yet, the great marine painters of the past have bequeathed to the world a huge treasure that ought to delight and ennoble the human spirit. People only need to look.
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Skewed path to Filipino STCW reform
Posted on Wednesday 8th October 2014


Forget the babbling critics in Manila. Republic Act No. 10635, which gives the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) sole authority over matters concerning the STCW Convention, is a desirable and necessary piece of legislation. Where in the world can you find several state agencies handling seafarers’ affairs? Unfortunately, the 47-page Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for the new law approved last March are not only seriously flawed. They could well open the doors to corruption.
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Chalking up points under MLC 2006
Posted on Thursday 2nd October 2014


Genuine empathy toward seafarers and respect for their rights are things that cannot be legislated. Even so, we’re pleased to note the signs of progress in the enforcement of ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006. According to a DNV GL analysis, a total of 160 ships were detained by Port State Control for serious breaches of MLC 2006 during the first year of implementation (from 20th August 2013). That means one ship detained every two days or so.
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The irony in World Maritime Day 2014
Posted on Friday 26th September 2014


With more than 50 international protocols now governing the shipping industry, the theme for World Maritime Day 2014 couldn’t have been more appropriate: “IMO Conventions: Effective Implementation”. It also couldn’t have been more ironic. Seafarers are still denied free online access to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) and other IMO treaties that directly affect their work.
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Why & wherefore National Maritime Week?
Posted on Monday 22nd September 2014


We care about the maritime industry. We like all things nautical. And our hearts are with the seafarers, maritime women and all those who toil at sea. But try hard as we may, we can’t get ourselves to join the celebration in Manila of National Maritime Week (21st-28th September 2014). How can we celebrate when…
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They’re singing paeans again to seafarers
Posted on Wednesday 10th September 2014

Luca della Robbia’s Cantoria. Photo credit: Ricardo André Frantz

Manila is gearing up to celebrate National Seafarers Day on the 28th of September. The programme kicks off the Sunday before. Amongst other activities will be a grand parade; an ecumenical rite at sea; a seafarers’ congress; awards to model cadets; and karaoke singing and on-the-spot painting contests. It sounds like fun, but don’t count on us hieing off to the city and joining the merrymaking.
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Is there really a “seafaring industry”?
Posted on Monday 8th September 2014


We look askance every time folks in Manila use the term “seafaring industry”. It’s normal to say “banking industry” but not “bank teller industry” – although bank tellers or cashiers are in the forefront of the business as they deal directly with customers. Likewise, we speak of the “trucking industry” but never of the “truck driving industry”. There’s a “hair styling industry” but the term encompasses both labour and management components – the individual hairdressers as well as those who own the hair salons.
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