Seafarers : UAE Government Resolution to help address Abandonment and Seafarers’ Rights

London. UK.  On 1 July 2021, the UAE Government’s Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure issued Cabinet Resolution No. (71) of 2021 on ‘Marine Wrecks And Violating Ships’ as part of its new pathway “to regulate the navigational activities, protection of the marine environment, safety and security of the UAE maritime sector and to protect the rights of seafarers on board ships in UAE waters and ports” detailed by its accompanying Circular. The Resolution was signed-off by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Prime Minister.

Circular Headlines

“In compliance with the resolution, UAE flagships and foreign flagships in UAE waters or calling UAE ports must comply with the requirements of the Resolution. In addition, Ships of (300) gross tonnage or more must provide an insurance or financial guarantee to cover the responsibility for removing the wreck in conformity with the requirements of the Nairobi International Convention on the removal of wrecks, 2007.”
“Any ship not meeting the requirements of the resolution will be prohibited from entering or working in the UAE waters and ports once the resolution enters into force.”

Resolution Headlines

The Resolution provides significantly more detail, with key highlights from a seafarer welfare perspective being:
  • Scope of Application: Art 2, 3) “Ships arrested in the State’s waters or ports, unseaworthy, or became unseaworthy due to long period of arrest, deterioration in its technical condition, abandoned by its Seafarers, their Owners or Operator did not pay the salary of the Seafarers for a period of two consecutive months or more, lack of providing provisions, supplies and fuel to run the ships’ engines, failure to meet the minimum safe manning, existence of hazardous Cargoes onboard that the Owner or Operator failed to secure.”
  • Violating Ships: Art 3, 1) “Failure of the Shipowner or Operator to secure the seaworthiness of the ship as a floating marine facility or failed to pay the salaries of seafarers [sic] for two months or more or failed to provide supplies or fuel to operate engines.”

Article 7 notably establishes a new ‘Wrecks and Violating Ships Committee’ with powers of enforcement

1) A committee called “Wrecks and Violating Ships Committee” shall be formed under the Ministry and the Minister issues a decision regarding the committee’s work system and decision-making mechanism.
2) The Committee – referred to in this Article – shall be chaired by a representative from the Ministry and membership of representatives from the following authorities: a) Ministry of Defense b) Ministry of Climate Change & Environment c) Competent Authority d) Local Authority concerned with Environment.
3) The duties of the Committee – referred to in this article – are as follows: a) Study the technical case of the wrecks and violating ships. b) Study the measures taken against the shipowner, operator, master, agent of the ship, or the wrecks, to ensure compliance with the legislation in force in the state. c) Make a recommendation to the Ministry that a written warning be given. d) Recommending the assistance of experts and specialists, if required.
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