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ICS hopes for shore leave and seafarer movement improvement after ILO meeting

ICS hopes for shore leave and seafarer movement improvement after ILO meeting
Improvements to Seafarer's Identity Documents (SIDs) are to be considered after a meeting between the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and industry stakeholders.

At the meeting in Geneva, employers, unions and governments were brought together, with the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) co-ordinating the shipowners' representation.

The meeting discussed the possibility of adjusting the technical requirements of the ILO convention covering SIDs, the Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention (Revised), 2003 (ILO 185), balancing the desire to improve seafarer welfare and address the security concerns of governments.

By updating the convention to bring SID specifications in-line with those of ePassports, it is hoped that it will achieve more widespread implementation. The change in requirements would mean adding including a contactless chip to the documents holding the owner's facial image, biometric and digital signatures.

Joe Cox, president of the Chamber of Shipping of America and the shipowners' spokesperson for the meeting explained: “The principal concern of shipowners with respect to ILO 185 has always been that it should help to ensure seafarers’ access to shore leave and their ability to join or leave a vessel in a foreign country. But technical issues have clearly prevented widespread implementation by governments. In addressing some of these issues, the meeting’s recommendations have outlined a potential way forward that could make it easier for governments to ratify and implement this important Convention.”

A future meeting of the ILO's governing body will consider whether the proposed measures should be taken forward.