Shipping heading for record number of seafarer abandonments in 2022

Over the past two and a half years of the pandemic, cases of companies abandoning their sailors on ships around the world have risen sharply with a record 95 cases reported last year to the joint database of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and International Labor Organization (ILO) on abandonment of seafarers.

Speaker at the International [email protected] Conference in Singapore Dr. Heike Deggim, Director of IMO’s Maritime Safety Division, said that so far this year, 74 cases of abandonment of seafarers have been reported to the IMO/ILO database.

“It was only during the first half of 2022, so we can assume that this year we are heading towards surpassing the 2021 record of 95 cases,” she said.

Obviously, this is not a trend anyone wants to see continue and is something Dr Degim said needs to be worked on.

“The Joint IMO/ILO Tripartite Working Group has been re-established by the ILO and IMO to identify and address seafarers’ issues and the human element. It will meet over the next two years in several sessions, and they will in particular address guidelines on how to deal with seafarer abandonment cases,” she said.

The working group will also address other seafarer welfare issues, including the treatment of those suspected of maritime crimes, as well as bullying and harassment, including sexual assault.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) recently highlighted the growing number of cases of seafarers reporting non-payment of wages for two months or more, which meets the ILO definition of abandonment . He said seafarers did not always realize that not being paid for a few months could be a precursor to abandonment.

In 2021, the ITF recovered some $37 million in wages that had been withheld from the crew by shipowners.