PH seafarers at risk of EU ban on standards issue

The Philippines need to convince EU that it has complied with all the standards required for its seafarers before end this year otherwise as many as 50,000 Filipino seafarers under European flags would losing jobs with their European principals.

At the virtual “Tapatan sa Aristocrat” MARINA Administrator Vice-Admiral Robert Empedrad said that European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) is expected to issue a result of their audit of the country’s maritime training systems compliance with Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW) conducted in March last year wether they will continue supporting Filipino seafarers or not.

MARINA Administrator Vice-Admiral Robert Empedrad (Photo credit:

EMSA is the EU agency charged with reducing the risk of maritime accidents, marine pollution from ships and the loss of human lives at sea by helping to enforce the pertinent EU legislation.

STCW came into force in 1978 as Governments agreed to standardize training around the world. STCW Basic Safety Training, as it is known today is required by all seafarers who are working onboard commercial ships or Superyachts.

The decision is expected to be out in August this year because the EU Commission will review in July on the results of the audit. If the result is given then MARINA will give its corrective action and by November this year, hopefully the Philippines will be granted the safety seal.

“I am confident that what we are doing will merit the favorable support of the EU committee for the deployment of our seafarers,” said Empedrad.

For now, Empedrad said, Filipino seafarers are still okay for deployment in EU flag carriers.

He noted that the Philippines since 2006 up to 2018 had not really acted on the concerns raised by EMSA, which conducted 8 inspections during that period relating to the quality of training for the country’s seafarers from the local schools and training institutes.

In 2020, EMSA came to the Philippines and listed several concerns including 13 shortcomings, 3 observations and several subfindings, concerning certification issues.

“We don’t want to lose our being number one,” said Empedrad.

He said, all these major findings of EMSA are being addressed, including the school curriculum which they had been crafted in 2018 but which has yet to be implemented.

On the International Maritime Organization “White List”, Empedrad said the Philippines has smooth sailing relations with members and is expected for reelection for another two year term.

So far, there are 1.6 million Filipino seafarers, making the Philippines the number one choice for seafarers globally. But deployment has been affected by the pandemic as some vessels, particularly the cruise lines have stopped operation.

During the pandemic, the government has worked to make the Philippines ports to become crew change hubs. These ports are Manila, Cebu, Davao, Bataan, Subic and Batangas.