Secretary General, IMO, Ki-Tack Lim

The International Maritime Organisation has at last bowed to pressure and has agreed to re-approach its listing process for the Standards, Certification and Watch-Keeping STCW Convention’s White List.

The global maritime regulatory body had faced intense pressure from some member states over its plans to delist over 87 countries, including South Africa, from its STCW Whitelist, which the affected countries believed would have major implications for the countries’ maritime industry.

The STCW Convention 1978 stipulates standards of training, certification and watch-keeping for seafarers.

According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority SAMSA, the IMO agreed to re-approach the process following discussions between SAMSA, other Member States of the IMO and the organisation during a meeting in London last week.

“Discussions on the matter between the parties concerned came to a conclusion that the drawing up of the list of countries for delisting from the STCW Convention White List earlier this year did not follow due process,” Sobantu Tilayi, the CEO of the South African Maritime Safety Authority SAMSA, said.

“The IMO then agreed to withdraw the list of affected countries and to embark on a process that is fair and transparent over the next year or two. Therefore the list that was drawn up will no longer be presented to the IMO Maritime Safety Committee that is scheduled to sit in June.”

In February 2019, the IMO unveiled its intentions to delist as many as 87 countries from its Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) Convention Whitelist

Tilayi had confirmed that the agency was extremely concerned by IMO’s planned action.

“Even as we have a serious situation in our hands, and should never have found ourselves in this position, I am confident that we will act with speed and do so correctly to ensure that the intended action by the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee is not finalized to South Africa’s disadvantage,” Tilayi said.

SAMSA had explained that the planned response action plan involves three broad activities; securing of IMO assistance with compilation of the report required in terms of the convention, hastening of a SAMSA process setting in place a relevant quality management system, and constant engagement with stakeholders.

The planned delisting was intended to remove all countries that are not compliant with requirements of the 1978 STCW Convention as amended from its Whitelist. The IMO had also released a list showing that as many as 87 countries would be affected by the move.

The circular had stated the intention but provided no set date for implementation of the action; but Tilayi had argued that the proposed delisting could possibly be undertaken later in 2019.

 “The main purpose of the convention is to promote safety of life and property at sea and the protection of the marine environment by establishing in common agreement international standards of training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers,” according to the IMO.