The Philippines has, for the third time this decade, made it to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) ‘White List’ of countries that have complied with the revised Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention.
Seafaring is a major industry with seafarers remitting at least US$1b annually.
The convention prescribes minimum standards relating to training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers, which countries are obliged to meet or exceed. It was recently amended in May to provide stricter maritime standards.
The inclusion of the Philippines, the world’s largest supplier of seafarers, is significant as it allays fears of an international crewing shortage. Failure of the Philippines to make it to the White List would mean the invalidation of Philippines training certificates, forcing shipowners to lay off more than 300,000 Filipino crews currently employed on commercial ships worldwide.
This would result in a crewing crisis as Filipinos make up at least 25 per cent of the 1.2 million crews onboard international vessels and there is no other nation which can supply these numbers.
For the Philippines, inclusion in the White List means that seafaring will continue to be a major source of jobs for Filipinos, many of whom are unable to find employment at home. The Philippines has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. In April, the employment rate stood at 7.2 per cent, meaning that at least 2.8 million Filipinos could not find a job. This has forced many Filipinos to work in overseas professions such as seafaring. Today, seafaring is a major industry with seafarers remitting at least US$1 billion annually and contributing significantly to the national economy.
‘The inclusion of the Philippines in the IMO White List reflects its consistent and sustained standing in giving full and complete effect to the IMO’s STCW 95, as amended,’ labor secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz said in a statement.
The Philippines had consistently maintained its inclusion in the White List in 2000, 2005, and 2009.
‘The White List affirms the capacities and diligence of the Philippines in ensuring the competencies of Filipino seafarers’, she added.