Manila STCW Amendments now in force

Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 40, June 2012

Amended maritime rules are now in force to give effect to New Zealand’s obligations as a party to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW).

Changes to the convention were agreed in June 2010 and came into force in January 2012, with a five-year transition period. The changes affect a number of maritime rules, but in particular Maritime Rules Part 31A and Part 32.

The 1978 STCW Convention was the first such convention to establish basic training, certification and watchkeeping requirements for seafarers at an international level. It prescribes minimum standards that signatory countries (the parties to the convention) are obliged to meet or exceed.

New Zealand has been a signatory to the convention since 1986. Changes made under the convention are automatically accepted by signatories unless they specifically choose to opt out.

Under STCW, New Zealand can recognise or accept STCW certificates for seafarers issued by other parties and be assured that those seafarers meet the same international standards required by New Zealand for STCW qualifications. Such certificates issued by New Zealand are also able to be recognised or accepted in other countries.

Major revisions of the convention were carried out in 1995 and 2010. The latest amendments (the Manila Amendments) mainly affect the following:

  • changes to the minimum requirements for hours of rest and fitness for duty (Part 31A)
  • changes to the required seagoing service for revalidation of STCW certificates (Part 31A)
  • introduction of four new STCW certificates (Able Seafarer Deck, Able Seafarer Engine, Electrotechnical Officer and Electrotechnical Rating) in Part 32, and revocation of the existing ILO AB certificate
  • changes to training requirements and seagoing service for STCW engineering certificates (MEC 3 to MEC 1) (Part 32)
  • changes to definitions associated with the Manila Amendments, including certificate of competency and certificate of proficiency
  • a number of consequential changes and other minor corrections to give effect to the Manila Amendments.

The Manila Amendments also require parties to establish measures to prevent drug and alcohol abuse. It is proposed that provisions in the forthcoming Maritime Transport Amendment Bill establish a maximum alcohol limit for masters, officers and other seafarers, on ships subject to the convention, while performing designated safety, security and environmental protection duties.

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