10 JULY 2002
Transport Minister Censu Galea yesterday highlighted measures being undertaken by the Malta Maritime Authority to ensure that Maltese flagged ships conform to ILO Convention 147 and its Protocol, which will become effective for Malta in January of next year.
The regulations particularly apply to flag and port state inspectors, who will be directly responsible to ensure that the conventions standards are maintained on the ships they inspect.
Mr Galea was speaking at the International Labour Organisation seminar on maritime labour instruments and ship inspections, organised to ensure that Malta is well prepared for the international obligations it has agreed to adhere to in this sphere.
The Transport Minister placed due emphasis on the upcoming Convention, as he explains, "ILO 147 is undoubtedly the most important maritime convention to be adopted by the International Labour Organisation as it aims at ensuring on merchant ships a wide range of minimum standards relating to safety, social security, shipboard conditions of employment and living arrangements.
While applying due focus to the adoption of conventions and the promulgation of legislation, Mr Galea insisted that the implementation aspect of the Convention must not be lost.
He explains, "The Malta Maritime Authority is continuing with its work to ensure that standards of safety, pollution prevention and seafarer welfare on board Maltese tonnage are maintained at the highest possible level.
"Whilst adopting a selective approach with regard to statutory certification of ships flying its flag, limiting this function only to the most reputable classification societies in the shipping industry, MMA, in order to ensure continued compliance to international standards by Malta flag ships, has also set up a complementary flag State inspection regime comprising a global network of inspectors covering ports world wide."
Mr Galea also explained how the MMA is carrying out significant organisational restructuring and technical capacity building, particularly through human resource recruitment and development and IT facility upgrading.
This process, he explains, should enable MMA to successfully implement its flag state and port state control regime in the most efficient and effective way possible, thus fulfilling its obligations in respect of international maritime standards but, more significantly, in respect of the maritime community at large.
Maltas ratification of the Convention was a significant milestone for Malta as it adds a very important international convention to the list of international maritime legislation already adopted by Malta.
It also signifies the completion of another part of a legislative and administrative programme of action embarked by the Malta Maritime Authority to ensure the enhancement of international maritime standards on ships flying the Malta flag.
According to Mr Galea, "Acceptance of this convention is the conclusion of process initiated in 1996 preparing for the ratification of these two important international instruments. This process included a detailed study prepared by MMA, with the expert advice of ILO, on Maltas obligations arising out of the ratification of these treaties and the enactment of the relative legislation paving the way for the acceptance of these instruments."
The International Labour Organisation plays an important role within the context of the welfare of seafarers on board merchant ships.
Mr Galea elaborates, "In this respect, Malta actively participates in the workings of this Organisation and gives particular importance to its maritime labour standards programme. In this regard, one cannot fail to refer to Maltas pioneer involvement within the ILO project, currently underway, to review past ILO conventions and formulate what is being referred to as a bill of rights for seafarers."