From March 5-6 in Tampa, Florida, NAMMA partnered with the International Port Welfare Partnership (IPWP) project for a seminar on developing port welfare committees to support seafarers’ welfare. More than 35 individuals participated in the seminar, with representatives especially from seafarers’ welfare organisations that supported crews serving in the Caribbean area.
The IPWP is a project of ISWAN and managed by the UK Merchant Navy welfare Board to encourage and support the establishment of welfare boards and port welfare committees worldwide, especially with the encouragement of the ILO’s MLC, 2006. These committees provide the forum for maritime organisations to regularly meet and support port welfare services and facilities in improving seafarers’ lives.
The first afternoon of the Tampa seminar was led by the IPWP’s Peter Tomlin, Sharon Coveney, and Rebecca Stalker. They debuted a new IPWP program that is aimed at training ambassadors for the program, those who could go back to their local ports to promote the implementation of port welfare committees. The program led participants through the reasons why port welfare committees (PWCs) can be useful and how they are encouraged in the MLC, 2006. Peter Tomlin noted that many ports already had committees that functioned more-or-less like PWCs and could be easily designated as such going forward. In the end, the point was better service to seafarers and finding even more leverage to get support for seafarers’ welfare facilities. Tomlin also showed a version of new software the IPWP program was developing to create a much more detailed portrait of seafarers’ welfare facilities worldwide, a kind of ‘Trip Advisor’ for port welfare facilities.
The following morning welcomed a number of participants who were involved in supporting seafarers’ welfare in the Caribbean area. Jason Zuidema gave a presentation about why we need to improve information-gathering on seafarers’ welfare in the Caribbean. He mentioned that the database that Peter Tomlin and his team are creating would be a welcome answer to the problem of getting reliable information on welfare facilities in each port throughout the Caribbean area. A second talk was given by Sharon Joubert and Lilliam Alvarado of Seafarers’ House, San Juan, Puerto Rico. They gave a passionate talk about the challenges of serving seafarers in San Juan, particularly the 2018 hurricane season. The panel concluded with a presentation by Roger Harris of ISWAN on a new report focusing on the welfare needs of superyacht crews. Rev Canon Andrew Wright gave a further response to Harris’ talk from the point of view of The Mission to Seafarers, but also as the father of a superyacht crew member.
A final panel heard from Vice Admiral Brian Salerno, (US Coast Guard, ret.), Senior Vice President, Maritime Policy, CLIA on the efforts of the cruise industry to support seafarers’ welfare. Then CDR Anthony Migliorini, Prevention Department Head, US Coast Guard, Sector St. Petersburg, talked about the Coast Guard’s commitment to protection and prevention. He had previously served in other areas of the Caribbean, so had particular interest and knowledge of seafarers’ issues in the area. Finally, ITF inspector, Tony Sasso concluded the panel by focusing on some of the challenges for seafarers from a labor perspective. He called for more help in promoting the welfare of seafarers on the Miami River, as one example.
A special thank you to Steve Finnesy of the Tampa Seafarers’ Center for helping host the event and facilitating visits to the port and seafarers’ center. Also thank you to The Mission to Seafarers, the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, and the TK Foundation for supporting NAMMA’s programs this year.