Call for joint effort to plug training gap
By K. K. CHADHA
ASIAN shipowners have called for a joint effort to eradicate discrimination against Asian seafarers by Western maritime authorities.
The initiative should involve owners, managers, and training and crewing sectors, they believe.
The idea was aired at the first meeting of the Asian Shipowners Forum's (ASF) Seamen Committee, hosted in Qingdao recently by the China Shipowners' Association and the China Ocean Shipping (Group) Co.
Ten delegates from the shipowners' associations of Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, China and representatives from other shipping companies attended the meeting.
Many Western maritime authorities perceive Asian seamen as 'sub-standard'.
The problem of sub-standard performance was stressed repeatedly at the meeting.
Some delegates said there was a glaring need to address the discrepancy between actual levels of training and what the maritime industry regarded as acceptable.
'A good measuring stick in assessing this discrepancy is the numerous recommendations given by port state authorities and oil companies which, although subjective, give us a good indication of what level of training competency is required for seafarers,' the ASF said.
It was felt there was no use in constantly seeking remedies for sub-standard operations through 'upgrading training'.
That was akin to a patient with a headache going to the doctor and asking him to 'do something about the aspirin', the ASF said.
The root cause of the training discrepancy, which had led to an industry-interpreted 'sub-standard' level of competency, must be identified, it said.
That could only be achieved through a direct link-up between the various Asian training facilities and shipowners, managers and manning companies.
Many delegates said there was a need to adopt a standardised code of interpretation and implementation.
This would enable the adoption of an effective Asian standard of training to familiarise and train seafarers to standards required under the ISM Code and the new STCW Convention.
Delegates shared the view that Asia was and would continue to be the world's major supplier of seafarers.
Implementation of the STCW Convention and ISM Code heightened awareness among the Asian maritime industry that a well established 'Asian standard' of seafarers' quality must be drawn up.
'In this way the best use will be made of sea-going personnel, capital, equipment and training facilities in order to create a standardised set of basic minimal requirements for training competency, requirements and standards on an Asia-wide basis,' the ASF said.