In a significant development, the European Commission (EC) has decided to continue recognizing the safety certifications issued by the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) for around 50,000 Filipino sailors working on European Union-flagged ships. The decision comes after the EC's Directorate General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE) acknowledged the "constructive cooperation" with Philippine authorities and their efforts to improve the seafarer training and certification system.
The Philippines is the largest maritime labor supplier in the world, with 345,000 Filipino sailors deployed in 2022. These seafarers remitted around $6.7 billion, making a substantial contribution to the country's economy. The EC's decision is a testament to the serious efforts taken by the Philippines since the first European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) inspection back in 2006.
Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista expressed deep elation over the decision, confirming that many of the European Maritime Safety Agency's findings have been adequately addressed. He added that this milestone development in the Philippine maritime industry bodes well for the future of Filipino seafarers who comprise the world's largest maritime labor force.
Technical assistance from the EC will be provided in the coming months to help the Philippines further improve its education, training, and certification system for seafarers. The assistance was discussed between EC president Ursula von der Leyen and President Marcos on the sidelines of the EU-ASEAN summit last December.
The decision prevents a crisis of monumental proportions and saves 50,000 jobs for Filipino masters and officers aboard European vessels. Department of Migrant Workers (DMW - former POEA) Secretary Susan Ople highlighted that Filipino seafarers are among the best in the world, and the decision by the EU Commission reflects that fact. She also expressed the DMW's "most sincere gratitude" to the EC for its decision to continue recognizing Filipino seafarers' certificates.
The European Maritime Committee, representing Europe's maritime private sector community from countries including Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden, also agreed that the European Commission should maintain recognition of Filipino seafarers' certificates. Tore Henriksen, chairperson of the Joint Maritime Committee, called this agreement a very positive development in the Philippine maritime industry and urged the Philippines authorities to continue complying with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) and implement safety and well-being measures for all Filipino seafarers.
With the crisis averted, government officials and maritime industry representatives emphasized the need for continuous improvement and innovation in the sector. At JobWave Maritiem Recruitment we anticipate that Filipino seafarers will remain the preferred choice in the EU region, and the government and private sector must work together to boost training and address the issues raised by the European Maritime Safety Agency. This collaborative effort will ensure the safety of travelers and secure the future of many Filipino seafarers' families.
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