Protecting Indonesian Seafarers

Through an Indonesian initiative, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has established ‘Guidelines for Port State and Flag State on How to Deal with Seafarer Abandonment Cases.’ The Guidelines have been promoted by Indonesia since 2020, along with China and the Philippines, and were adopted by the IMO at its 110th Legal Committee meeting in London this month.

The Indonesian Ambassador to the UK – who is also the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Indonesia at the IMO – Ms Desra Percaya, expressed her appreciation for the support of all IMO member countries towards the adoption of the Guidelines. As one of the largest contributors to ocean-going mariners in the world, Indonesia has a great interest in the issue of seafarer protection.

In her statement, Ms Desra said, “Indonesian seafarers not only work on fishing vessels, but also commercial ships and cruise ships abroad. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indonesian Embassy in London handled a number of cases of displaced Indonesian seafarers. The process of resolving the cases took a long time and the collective efforts of various parties. Learning from this experience, this Guideline can be a common reference for stakeholders to accelerate the process of resolving seafarer abandonment cases.”

Indonesia is the third largest country in the world after China and the Philippines as a supplier of seafarers on foreign ships, including commercial vessels. Based on data from the Ministry of Transportation, the total number of Indonesian seafarers is 1.2 million people.

Seafarers who work on foreign ships get an average income, for example: for ratings of Rp. 7 million, and for officers Rp. 21 million. The income of Indonesian seafarers is a big contributor to state revenue, bringing hundreds of trillions of funds into the country.

These mariners form a vital link in the global supply chain, but one that is sometimes exploited. Based on joint data from IMO and the International Labour Organization (ILO), over the past few years there have been a number of Indonesian seafarers working on abandoned commercial vessels in various ports in the world.

As a follow-up, the IMO will work with the ILO in Geneva to monitor the implementation of the Guidelines globally. The Indonesian delegation attending the IMO LEG 110 Session consisted of representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Transportation cq Directorate General of Sea Transportation, and the Indonesian Embassy in London.

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