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IHS"Safety At Sea"-Magazine/Your Say:Fear on the Black Sea
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МнениеПуснато на: Пет 11 Окт 2013, 15:09    Заглавие:  IHS"Safety At Sea"-Magazine/Your Say:Fear on the Black Sea
Описание на темата: публикувано на 06 Jun 2013 в британското морско списание "Safety At Sea"

06 Jun 2013
Safety At Sea - Magazine - Your Say

Fear on the Black Sea

Life at sea is hard. Joseph Conrad, in his novel Lord Jim, used the word “enslaved” to describe it. Little has changed in the past century in this respect.

The work continues to be hard and the adventure not what many seafarers expected when they signed up.

This aspect of the business is “out of sight” and, therefore, “out of mind” for the general population. The public has not been engaged and so industry has not been encouraged to deal with the issue of working conditions.

Having in mind the story ‘Rescuers and mariners killed in Black Sea’ (News, SAS, February 2013) and other ‘cold’ accident investigation reports and forgotten cases from the near or far past (where the main contributing factors for the maritime accidents are evident ignorance of the IMO instruments by involved coastal and flag states, shipowners and ship operators, classification socialites and insurers), why should I believe that the Maritime Labour Convention will help improve safety in the Black Sea?

It is apparent that the causes underlying the decline in ship safety were economic. Cost cutting in response to commercial pressure has led to a decline in quality and standards of ship management as some shipowners and ship managers avoid essential ship safety issues.

The ship’s safety system is locked in a vicious circle. Due to commercial consideration some owners and managers operate substandard ships. Flag states and classification societies are failing to observe shipping standards because of competitive pressures, while this lack of effective regulation results in the standard of shipping declining further.

Furthermore, this decline in ship safety standards has been exacerbated by the failure of the other parties involved and flag states to observe convention standards of the international ship safety regulatory system. Additionally, the IMO has been powerless to ensure the observance of its conventions.

From the media newsrooms originated from Black Sea coastal region we can find reports of all kinds of abuse, as well as financial exploitation and inadequate accommodation welfare and nutrition of the crew on board various ships engaged in Black Sea short sea shipping.

There should be no tolerance of such a culture of fear and intimidation. The abuse and neglect of seafarers constitute both a violation of human rights and a serious risk factor for ship safety.

While this culture is partly commercially driven, it ultimately derives from a fundamental lack of respect for human life. It is facilitated by a legal framework that can allow perpetrators to hide behind corporate veils or slip through jurisdictional cracks.

While the industry may be like the Roman god Janus, with two faces: one light and one dark, it may also be a relative of the nine-headed Hydra.

It is a multi-sector industry, each ‘head’ with its own approach to conducting business and its own economic foundation for competitive activity.

The root cause of the above is that many provisions of international maritime conventions are honored in their breach rather than their observance, as well as the IMO slowness with which it reacts to significant issues.

The IMO has performed a valuable role in establishing conventions and codes of conduct to regulate international shipping.

It is generally agreed that the standards set are adequate but that compliance with the standard by some flag authorities (for example in the Black Sea coastal states), classification societies and ship owners and managers is obviously inadequate.

The prime regulatory responsibility for ships’ safety rests with flag states, many of which either by intent or ignorance are failing to detect and eradicate substandard shipping.

Many flag states, port states, classification societies, operators, charterers and other parties insist on high standards and act in a responsible manner.

Others appear to adopt an approach which seeks to maximise short term gains, even at the expense of lives, cargoes, the marine environment and their own reputations, resulting in the flourishing of the “darker side” of the industry.

Captain Hristo Papukchiev
Master, Paola
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