The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has announced that Seafarers' rights to shore leave have been “strengthened” to achieve the smooth transit in ports of ships, cargo and passengers.
Amendments to the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL Convention) will bring in a new requirement for national governments to introduce electronic information exchange, including electronic data interchange (EDI), to transmit information related to maritime transport.
This should be in place by April 8, 2019, with provision for a transitional period of at least 12 months during which paper and electronic documents would be allowed.
The IMO stated that the use of a “single window” for data is encouraged, to enable all the information required by public authorities in connection with the arrival, stay and departure of ships, persons and cargo, to be submitted via a single portal, without duplication.
In addition, a number of standard forms, standards and recommended practices relating to stowaways have been updated.
The FAL Convention has 118 contracting States.
In an announcement on its website, the IMO stated: “The amendment to the international standard on shore leave adds a new provision, on top of the requirement to allow crew ashore while the ship on which they arrive is in port.
“This new provision says there should be no discrimination on grounds of nationality, race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, or social origin. Shore leave should be granted, irrespective of the flag State of the ship.
“If any request is turned down, the relevant public authorities must provide an explanation to the crew member and the master, which the seafarer or master can request to be provided in writing.”