71 Countries Make IMO's Initial STCW White List

The 73rd session of the Organization's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), formally endorsed the findings of a working group established to examine a report made by the secretary-general to the MSC, which revealed that 71 countries and one associate member of IMO has met the criteria for inclusion on the list.

The 1995 amendments to STCW (The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers) which entered into force on Feb. 1, 1997 revised and updated the original 1978 Convention, setting out clearly defined minimum competency requirements for all seafarers and taking into account developments in technology since the 1978 Convention was adopted. A position on the White List entitles other Parties to accept, in principle that certificates issued by or on behalf of the parties on the list in compliance with the Convention.

It is expected that Port State Control inspectors will increasingly target ships flying flags of countries that are not on the White List. A Flag state Party that is on the White List may as a matter of policy elect not to accept seafarers with certificates issued by non White List countries for service on its ships. If it does accept such seafarers, they will be required by Feb. 1, 2002 also to have an endorsement, issued by the flag state, to show that their certificate is recognized by the flag state. By Feb. 1, 2002, masters and officers should hold STCW 95 certificates or endorsements issued by the flag state. Certificates issued and endorsed under the provisions of the 1978 STCW Convention will be valid until their expiry date.

The fact that a Party is not listed on the White List does not invalidate certificates or endorsements issued by that Party. Nothing in the STCW Convention prevents the employment of any seafarer who holds a valid certificate or endorsement issued by a Party of the Convention. Nevertheless, the White List will become one of several criteria, including the inspection of facilities and procedures that can be applied in the selection of properly trained and qualified seafarers. Countries not initially included in the White List will be able to continue with the assessment process with a view to inclusion on the list at a later stage.

The publication of the lists marks the end of the first stage of a groundbreaking verification procedure in which, for the first time, IMO has been given a direct role in the implement of one of its instruments. Panels of experts have spent much of the past two years engaged in rigorous assessment of information presented to them by Parties to the Convention concerning their ability to meet the standards enshrined in SCTW 95.

Panel members were selected, as far as possible, to give a wide geographical spread and a broad coverage of the different facets of the Convention. These panels submitted their findings to IMO secretary-general William O'Neil.

Maritime Reporter Magazine, page 53,  Jan 2001 Dennis A. Pignotti

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