1. Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) vide Marine Notice 17/2016 requires that the maximum continuous period that a seafarer should serve on board a vessel (including any service extensions) without leave shall not exceed 11 months. However taking cognizance of the worldwide situation due to Covid-19, AMSA had issued Marine Notice 04/2020 providing its approach towards applying the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006) requirements in respect of maximum continuous period that a seafarer can serve on board a vessel without taking leave. Marine notice 04/2020 outlined AMSA’s compliance and enforcement approach for the period 1 July 2020 to 1 October 2020.
2.AMSA has now issued Marine Notice 10/2020 which supersedes 04/2020 and outlines the compliance and enforcement approach on subject until 28 February, 2021. All Ship owners / Ship managers must ensure compliance as same will be verified by Australian port state authorities. The AMSA will accept the validity of a SEA under the following circumstances:
a. Where a seafarer has a valid seafarer employment agreement (SEA), which is signed by all parties and is being complied with, and seafarer has served on board a vessel for less than 11 months without taking leave - no action will be taken.
b. Where a seafarer has a valid SEA and has served continuously on board a vessel for more than 11 months - the master will be required to provide a plan for the seafarer’s repatriation which is approved by the flag State, and results in the repatriation of the seafarer before having served a maximum continuous period of 14 months.
c. Where a seafarer does not have a valid SEA - the master will be required to facilitate a valid SEA or otherwise repatriate the seafarer.
d. No extensions of service without taking leave beyond 14 months will be accepted by AMSA unless the master or owner demonstrate to AMSA;
• that all possible efforts were made to repatriate the seafarer without success;
• the seafarer has provided written confirmation accepting the extension and
• a plan to repatriate the seafarer within a month has been put in place.
3. After 28th Feb, 2021, AMSA will revert to the compliance and enforcement approach outlined in marine notice 17/2016, meaning that AMSA inspectors will verify compliance with Regulation 2.4 of the MLC, 2006 to ensure seafarers serve no longer than 11 months continuously on board a ship.
4. Ship owners/ operators and masters are advised to be guided by above.
This Technical Circular and the material contained in it is provided only for the purpose of supplying current information to the reader and not as an advice to be relied upon by any person. While we have taken utmost care to be as factual as possible, readers/ users are advised to verify the exact text and content of the Regulation from the original source/ issuing Authority.