Tuvalu First In Pacific To Amend Seafarer Legislation

Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

News Release

Secretariat of the Pacific Community Suva, Fiji

Monday, July 22, 2013

The International Day of the Seafarer on 25 June 2013 held special significance for the Tuvalu government as it became the first country in the Pacific Islands region to pass amended legislation addressing the 2010 amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW Convention).

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), with funding assistance from the International Maritime Organization (IMO), has been working with the Tuvalu Government to update this important piece of legislation.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Tuvalu Maritime Training Institute (TMTI), Iefata Paeniu, who led the working group responsible for completion of the amended legislation, said this development would have a positive impact on the Tuvaluan economy.

‘We have seafarers working on overseas ships, and if we do not follow the new changes, it will obstruct our opportunities on overseas ships. Legislating STCW 2010 is important for our seafarers as well as those of other nationalities serving on Tuvalu flagged ships,’ he said.

He added that a lot of families in Tuvalu rely on remittance from their seafarer relatives to meet essential expenses such as school fees.

Remittances from seafarers form approximately 30% of the gross national product of Tuvalu. In some instances, as many as 25 dependents are supported by a single seafarer’s wage.

The amended legislation was signed by the Tuvalu Minister of Communication and Transport, Kausea Natano and witnessed by the permanent secretaries, trainees and staff of TMTI and other stakeholders.

SPC’s Deputy Director of Transport Brian Riches said the development is in line with SPC’s Endeavour to ensure safe, efficient and affordable regional maritime service.

‘It is part of SPC’s mandate to provide technical assistance to countries in maritime transport, and it will certainly help countries in becoming compliant with international laws and of course to ensure that countries remain on the IMO White List,’ he said.

The STCW Convention was enacted in 1978, and amended first in 1995 and then in 2010. Tuvalu is the only country in the Pacific region that has legislation reflective of the 2010 amendments.

The primary roles of the convention are to set standards, govern the award of certificates and control watchkeeping arrangements. Its provisions apply not only to seafarers, but also to ship owners, maritime training institutions and maritime administrations.

Earlier this year SPC updated the Pacific Islands Maritime Laws (PIMLaws) – a collection of model legislation and regulations that countries can use to enact their national maritime laws. In addition to updating the model regulations on the STCW convention, SPC updated the non-convention passenger vessel regulations and the small boat safety regulations, while developing new regulations on the carriage of deck passengers and the Maritime Labour Convention 2006.

‘SPC recognizes that translating international instruments into law is challenging, especially for small island states. So we sought funding assistance from IMO to engage a consultant to update PIMLaws and help countries in adopting the updated model regulations,’ said Brian Riches.

SPC will now move on to assist Kiribati and Federated States of Micronesia in updating their STCW legislation, as per their official request.

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