On the 10th of April 2023 the Merchant Shipping Directorate of Transport Malta released a revision to its notice number 109 (the "Revised Notice") in relation to the Implementation of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, as amended ("STCW").

The STCW is an international convention adopted by a conference at the International Maritime Organisation in 1978 with its primary objective to set out minimum basic standards and requirements of training, certification, and watchkeeping of seafarers in order to ensure the safety of life and property at sea and the protection of the marine environment.

In 2010 a set of amendments to the STCW were proposed with a view to modernise the standards set out therein. These amendments came to be known as the Manila Amendments (the "Amendments") and are wide ranging. The core of the amendments are to implement changes to the law to cater for new technological developments in the industry especially with respect to developments which demand new shipboard competences. Locally, the Amendments were transposed into the Laws of Malta through the Merchant Shipping (Training and Certification) Regulations, 2013 (L.N 153 of 2013).

The purpose of the recently issued Revised Notice is twofold. At the outset, it has been issued in order to bring to the attention of Shipowners, Ship Operators, Managers, Masters, Owners' Representatives and Recognised Organisations of the adoption of the seafarer portal as the sole direct link to apply for seafarer documentation (https://seafarers.transport.gov.mt). The seafarer portal, which has been implemented by Merchant Shipping Directorate of Transport Malta as part of its digitalisation project for the entire Malta Ship Register, is an online portal intended to facilitate and expedite the process of obtaining seafarer documentation. Amongst several features, the portal provides visibility on the entire application process for the relevant seafarer documentation with its users able to monitor progress (from the moment of application until the receipt of the relevant document).

The seafarer portal has now been fully adopted by Transport Malta and all applications for the issuance of seafarer documentation are to be made through such portal. The Revised Notice advises relevant stakeholders of this and gives guidance to access and utilise the seafarer's portal to file an application for seafarer documentation.

In addition, the Revised Notice notifies stakeholders of updates and revised requirements which must be met by stakeholders, and which were introduced pursuant to the Amendments. The Merchant Shipping Directorate of Transport Malta clarifies that the purpose of the notice is not to describe in detail the provisions of the revised STCW or to list the obligations of companies but solely to tackle certain requirements of the revised and updated STCW.

Finally, the Merchant Shipping Directorate of Transport Malta invites stakeholders to dialogue with it regarding experiences in relation to the implementation of the STCW.

The Revised Notice may be found here.

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