Filipino Seafarers Escape EU Ban Despite Failing EMSA Audit

The EU has voted not de-recognise Filipino seafarers certificates of competence (COC) despite have failed two audits of STCW compliance by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) last year.

According to Intertanko at the Committee on Safety of the Sea (COSS) held on 23 April EU member states endorsed a recommendation from the European Commission to not de-recognise Filipino COCs, but instead the Philippines administration will have to report back every three months.

Thousands of Filipino officers serving on EU-flagged ships had been facing the possibility of losing their jobs if the ban long-threatened ban been agreed to after the country failed EMSA audits in April and October last year. A similar ban was imposed on Georgian seafarers in November 2010 and lasted for two years.

Instead EMSA will continue to undertake inspections to ensure compliance and EU member states will offer technical assistance to the Philippines to help it comply with the required standards.

“This is outcome is welcomed, providing the balance between an outright ban and a clean bill of health. The additional monitoring and technical assistance will provide the added assurance owners need when sourcing seafarers from the Philippines,” Intertanko said.

The Philippines manning industry had been seeking an extra 12 months to prove that reforms put in place over the last year were working, including designating the Maritime Industrial Authority as the single administrative body in charge of maritime training standards and certification in relation to STCW, a key concern for EMSA.

A ban on been threatened since 2010 when the Philippines failed a follow-up audit by EMSA, after it found deficiencies in its STCW compliance in a audit in 2006.