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Gard News 198, May/July 2010

Requirements are imposed by POEA for deployment of Filipino seafarers on board vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden.

In 2009 the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) issued a Resolution declaring the Gulf of Aden a high-risk zone and providing that seafarers on board vessels passing through the area are entitled to receive double compensation and benefits.

A recent POEA Resolution has established conditions for the deployment of Filipino seafarers on board vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden. The following requirements have been introduced:
- That the vessel which the seafarer being processed will board, will strictly pass only within the designated Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC);
- That the said passage will be registered with the Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) and the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Organisation (UKMTO);
-  That the vessel has a security plan in place and that the seafarer will be briefed about it.



Gulf of Aden: declared high risk zone by POEA. 

In addition, deployment of Filipino seafarers on board vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden shall be allowed only if shipowners, through manning agents, provide training to their crew on how to avoid, react, and cope with piracy and other related incidents. For processing of seafarers transiting the Gulf of Aden, POEA requires a certificate of compliance with a Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar, which includes shore-based training to improve knowledge and skills on how to carry out risk assessment, understanding piracy threats and current patterns, how to conduct the physical preparation of the vessel, conduct during transit to the high risk zone, actions on encountering pirates, as well as on-board exercises and drills on implementing anti-piracy strategy.

A tripartite summit to address piracy issues was held in Manila in January 2010 with government representatives (Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), POEA), employers, seafarers' unions and international organisations. One of the resolutions adopted at the summit was that manning agencies shall provide, pursuant to the POEA guidelines and at no cost to the seafarers, an anti-piracy awareness training seminar for departing seafarers as of 1st February 2010.

In response to queries on the length of validity of the anti-piracy training and whether it needs to be repeated before each deployment, POEA has clarified that seafarers need to attend the orientation seminar only once. An official advisory on this point is to  be issued by POEA shortly.

Shipowners and managers, through their manning agencies, are required to submit a written report to DOLE and the Department of Foreign Affairs on any incident of piracy involving their enrolled vessels, immediately after occurrence of the incident. The report must contain a description of the incident, actions taken and lessons learned.

We thank Del Rosario Pandiphil Inc., Philippines, for providing information on which parts of this article are based.

Any comments to this article can be e-mailed to the Gard News Editor.