‘Year of seafarer’ is a paradox - CMMI

Mar 17, 2010, 4:20PM EST
Seafarers are looked down on, despite IMO having dedicate this year to them

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) may have declared ‘2010 as the Year of the Seafarer’ to acknowledge the fervent service rendered by the seafarers worldwide, but the Company of Master Mariners of India at its meeting last week noted this gesture more of a paradox.
No doubt the IMO is a specialized agency responsible for improving maritime safety and preventing oil pollution of the seas and coastal waters. But having created MARPOL it has made it into a nightmare for the seafarer and often results in the seafarer being criminalized and punished.
Capt S. P. Sastry, the 77 year old master mariner and the oldest Indian captain still sailing and in command of a tanker, lamented that the series of tanker disasters from Torrey Canyon, Amoco Cadiz, Exxon Valdes, Sea Empress, Erica and Prestige were all projected in bad light by the press. This convinced the politicians and the public that tanker crews are the villains and need to be severely policed for any contravention of MARPOL and SOLAS regulations.
“Annex 6 of MARPOL that came into operation in 2008,” he stated. “Countries in some areas of the Baltic and part of the North Sea forbid the emission of NOX and SOX gases by the ship engine exhausts. There are plans to extend these to cover wider areas of Western Hemisphere and the US by July 2010. The responsibility for engine exhaust controls will fall on the masters and the chief engineers.”
“Time and again the seafaring community is distressed when it hears news of any arrests of marine officers on grounds of pollution,” decried Capt Harry Subramaniam, former Principal of 'LalBahadurShastriNautical & EngineeringCollege. “The Indian Master and Chief Officer of the Hebei Spirit, Captain Jasprit Chawla and Chief Officer Syam Chetan had suffered detention for almost two years in Korea for no fault of theirs.
What is felt most frustrating is that 80 percent of marine pollution including plastic bags, pesticides, etc comes from land based activities and eventually reaching the oceans through rivers and estuaries. According to US National Research Council 36% of oil in the ocean comes down from drains from rivers and waste run offs from city’s industries and civic sewage. Pollutants include grit, asbestos, phosphates, mercury, lead, nitrates, oil and much more. But MARPOL has no jurisdiction over such damage to the environment. Yet it is the unsuspecting seafarer, who is a soft target who bears the brunt of it all.
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Ron Oyer
Good points! The average person knows little of the merchant fleet particularly here in the US other than when it hits the news in a negative light.
3/17/2010 5:41:33 PM

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