General Directorate of Seafarers, from the Panama Maritime Authority
Through the General Directorate of Seafarers (DGGM), from the Panama Maritime Authority (PMA), the application and due compliance with the legal standards that establish the regulations of the international conventions ratified by Panama on the matter of seafarers, is controlled and verified, including the Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978, as amended (Convention STCW’78, as amended) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Maritime Labour Convention 2006, as amended (MLC 2006, as amended) of the International Labor Organization (ILO); both constituted in the laws of the Republic of Panama by Law No. 4 of May 15, 1992 and Law No. 2 of January 2, 2009, respectively.
This Directorate includes the departments of Maritime Labor Affairs; Control and Compliance; Quality Management; Certification. It also has 4 Auxiliary Registrar Offices (ORA) that assist seafarers and 14 International Offices.
Despite the global health crisis, during 2021, we have made significant progress towards meeting the objectives set, primarily aimed at benefiting our seafarers. We can highlight the following:
1. Contribution to the International Maritime University of Panama (UMIP):
A contribution of USD $ 3,100,000.00, which is established in the Organic Law 81 of November 8, 2012, which indicates that ten percent (10%) of the income collected by the General Directorate of Seafarers (DGGM) of the AMP through the issuance of certifications of officers and sailors corresponds to the UMIP.
2. Issuance of certificates and documentation of seafarers, in electronic format:
Until the end of November, 255, 714 electronic certificates were issued, including: Transitional Certificates (TC’s), certificate of course endorsements, proficiency certificates and endorsements of proficiency certificates, which is estimated to be a State saving of approximately USD $ 217,357.00. Likewise, some certificates and documentation continue to be issued in the printed format on security paper.
3. An increase of 96.7% of people benefited is achieved through the National Tour of Issuance of Marine Licenses of National Waters:
It benefits seafarers, to support their families and improve their income, as well as to order inland service navigation y provide them with their corresponding maritime documentation.
Through this valuable program, until the end of November of the current year, 17,707 people (9,703 trained people and 8,004 licenses for national waters handed over) were benefited by this program, which represents an 96.7% increase regarding the 2020 closing numbers, which were 9002 people benefited (5,060 trained people and 3,942 national water licenses handed over).
4. An increase of 279% in payment of wages due by shipowners to seafarers.
Based on the Maritime Labor Convention of 2006, attesting to the commitment made by the seafarers and the international maritime community, all complaints made by seafarers are received and processed, aiding when necessary.
That from July 1, 2019 until December 27, 2021, they have achieved the historic recovery of USD$ 10, 447,142.25 in wages due by the shipowners to the seafarers, navigating onboard ships of Panamanian flag.
From this record amount, USD$ 7, 660,455.55 correspond to 2021, representing an increase of 279% regarding the closing of 2020, that was of USD$ 2, 021,691.29.
Furthermore, this administration has achieved the process of 797 maritime labor complaints, 56 maritime labor conciliations and through the intervention of the PMA the shipowners, operators and P&I Clubs repatriated 1.386 crewmembers from different nationalities, who were abandoned on ships of Panamanian flag in different parts of the world, allowing their return to their homes, to their families, with the payment of their wages due, guaranteeing compliance with the national and international regulations protecting their labor and social rights.
- From January 1 until December 27, 2021.
- A payment USD$ 7, 660,455.55 in wages due, by the shipowners to the seafarers.
- Process of 243 labor complaints.
- Process of 19 labor conciliations.
- Due to the intervention of the PMA, the shipowners repatriated 761 crewmembers from ships of Panamanian flag in different parts of the world.
- 2020 Closing.
- Payment USD$ 2, 021,691.29 in wages due by the shipowners to the seafarers.
- Process of 427 labor complaints.
- Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no labor conciliations took place this year.
- The PMA intervened to achieve the repatriation of 539 crewmembers of Panamanian flag, in different parts of the world.
- 2019 Closing.
- Payment of USD$ 764,995.41 in wages due by the shipowners to the seafarers.
- Process of 127 labor complaints.
- Process of 37 labor conciliations.
- The intervention of the PMA helped to achieve the shipowners’ repatriation of 86 crew members of ships bearing the Panamanian flag, in different parts of the world.
4.1. MLC Amendments:
As a ratifying country of the MLC, 2006, the Republic of Panama has adopted the amendments to the Convention and has regulated them in its national legislation through Executive Decree No. 160 from March 3, 2021.
5. Maritime Labor Inspections:
Nationwide, 289 maritime labor inspections were performed onboard domestic and international service vessels of the Panamanian registry, in compliance with the provisions of Law Decree No. 8 from February 26, 1998 and Executive Decree No. 86 from February 22, 2013.
From the 289 performed ships inspections, 179 ships did not present deficiencies during the inspection and 72 did present some type of labor deficiency during the inspection, in addition 38 re-inspections were performed.
6. Establishment of Guidelines for the development of Maritime Training Courses and Programs:
For the first time, all the Maritime Training Centers (CFM) approved, the sixteen (16) nationals (Panama); thirty-two (32) international ones that cover the following regions: (Central America and the Caribbean, North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia), have Guides for the development of courses and training programs, in a unified way, which It will allow the provision of training in a uniform manner to seafarers, training established by the International Convention on Training, Certification and Guarding of Seafarers, as amended (STCW’78, as amended), based on the requirements of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the PMA.
Similarly, one of the measures found in the action plan of the performed audit report by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) is complied with, when it performed its audit at the beginning of 2018, in compliance with the Directive on European Union No. 2008/106 / EC, as amended, and STCW’78, as amended, thus preparing us for its next audit, as well as for the mandatory audit that the IMO will perform on 2022, for all its Member States.
7. Approval of the national Guidelines for the conducting of medical examination of seafarers.
They will be mandatory for the issuance of medical certificates on behalf of recognized doctors by de PMA inside and outside of the republic of Panama.
The purpose of these Guidelines is to comply with the international standards established by the ILO and the IMO as instructive, for the performance of medical examinations of seafarers and compliance with national and international maritime legislation, which require that all seafarers bear a valid medical certificate.
8. Auxiliary maritime service for yacht leasing:
In order to promote maritime services in accordance with new market trends and boost the auxiliary maritime industry to attract fresh foreign exchange through new business niches, the creation of the auxiliary maritime service for yacht leasing was approved through J.D. Resolution N ° 089-2020 from Thursday, November 26, 2020, published in the Official Gazette from January 8, 2021, which establishes the bases for a business model that will allow yacht owners as well as operators, to receive income through another economic modality.
9. Incentives for Panamanian Registry Vessels hiring Panamanian seafarers:
ADM Resolution No. 017-2021 from February 24, 2021, grants a discount incentive to shipping companies of up to fifty percent (50%), on the current rate in people’s technical documentation services of foreign oceans, working onboard ships of our registry and embarks Panamanian officers and cadets.
10. Database Renewal for the placement of Seafarers.
A renovation of the Database was performed to provide companies in the maritime sector and shipowners who are interested in hiring Panamanian personnel, the data of the seafarers in a transparent, orderly manner and considering their competencies, to provide them with better job opportunities.
11. Installation of a tripartite table for the benefit of seafarers and the maritime sector:
Since last May 13, —the day that the first meeting for the establishment of the maritime tripartite table was established—, until December 14; 53 meetings have been held, on the adoption of the legislation that will be applied onboard all the Panamanian flag merchant ships sailing in inland waters and the Panamanian flag commercial fishing vessels sailing in internal and international waters.
It has the active participation of the Ministry of Labour and Labour Development (MITRADEL), delegates of the National Council of Private Enterprise (CONEP), as well as the most representative employers ‘ and workers’ organizations in our country, such as the National Council of Organized Workers (CONATO) and the National Confederation of Independent Trade Union Unity (CONUSI), with moderators from the Inter-American School for Tripartism Social Dialogue and Conflict Resolution (E-DISTREC) from the University of Panama (UP).
12. Delivery of the report on the Maritime Highschool Degree to MEDUCA
The Minister of Maritime Affairs, Architect. Noriel Araúz, formally handed over to the Minister of Education, Maruja Gorday Moreno de Villalobos, the results of the Consultancy Service Report for the Diagnosis and Evaluation of the Maritime Highschool Degree, which suggested the need to be converted to a Highschool degree denominated “Industrial Highschool Degree in Naval Mechanics”, so that it is consistent with the development of the country’s logistics, maritime and port strategy, elevating it to a program similar to that of Industrial Highschool Degree.
The report consisted of examining the progress and impact of the program created as a pilot plan within the Curricular Transformation Project promoted by the Panama Maritime Authority (PMA) jointly with the Ministry of Education (MEDUCA) through Executive Decree 944 of the December 21, 2009. The pilot plan began at the beginning of 2010 in 4 State schools and was expanding until it now includes 8 official schools and 13 private schools, covering 8 provinces.
The document also suggests the need to strengthen students in Basic Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics), in Nautical Sciences, at a technological and systematic level, as well as teachers, so that they maintain an updated profile and of excellence.
13. Quality Management System of the DGGM:
The auditor of the international certifier Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance (LRQA), Eng. Ricardo López conducted an audit of the Quality Management System, which included the activities for the recertification of the system, giving as a recommendation the Certification of the quality management system. The scope of this audit included a sample of the 6 certified Regional Documentation Offices (ORD). Offices in Manila and Dubai were chosen for this task.
In addition, the implementation of the management system was concluded in the Regional Documentation Offices (ORDs) from Shanghai and Mumbai, which received their first internal audit.
Likewise, a Review was performed by the Management where the results of the performance of the Quality Management System (QMS) for 2021 were presented, it was attended by the heads and quality liaisons, both from Panama and from the Regional Documentation Offices (ORD).
14. 28,429 requests have been processed, in attention to our users:
Until November, a total of 28,429 requests have been received and processed, through the 4 Departments from DGGM from which 26,971 were answered and 378 did not meet the requirements for their corresponding process.
15. Audits to Maritime Training Centers (CFM):
Audits were performed at Maritime Training Centers (CFM) in Greece, Ukraine, Cyprus and the UAE, these inspections are performed periodically to monitor the quality of the training they provide and examine whether the center complies with the requirements demanded by the PMA, there are maritime training centers authorized by Panama in Europe, America, Asia and Africa.
The CFMs recognized by the Republic of Panama, are centers specialized in the training of seafarers to which maritime training is delegated, they meet the parameters required by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Convention on Training Standards, Certification and Guard for Seafarers, 1978, amended (Convention STCW’78, amended) and our current national legislation.
16. Actions performed on behalf of the Panamanian Seafarers:
The DGGM-AMP is constantly searching for effective ways that strengthen communication with various institutions, organizations, and companies, both national and international, aimed at exchanging experiences and technical knowledge, allowing the execution of the competencies of the Panamanian seafarers, which will positively impact the performance of their duties.
16.1 Actions performed on behalf of the Panamanian Seafarers:
The DGGM-AMP is constantly searching for effective ways that strengthen communication with various institutions, organizations, and companies, both national and international, focused on exchanging experiences and technical knowledge, allowing the execution of the competencies of the Panamanian seafarers, which will positively impact the performance of their duties.
They will be managed through the Database of the General Directorate of Seafarers (DGGM), which is administered by the Department of Maritime Labour Affairs, which receives all the documentation of the applicant or seafarer requesting shipment through the email@example.com, once the information meets the requirements, it will be provided to the shipping companies so that they can perform the interview and selection process that they require.
The following procedures are performed in person:
Shipping company Euronav Ship Management (Hellas) Ltd .:
The shipping company informed us that they will need more than 200 Panamanian officers and cadets, during the next 3 years. They also expressed their satisfaction with the performed work by the approximately 200 (between cadets and officers), who are Panamanian seafarers currently working on their ships, as they are competent and very professional, which is why we are extremely proud.
Shipping company Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC)
To start, a contribution of five (5) boarding opportunities, was achieved.
Shipping company Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM)
To meet Panamanian seafarers and manage shipping, they traveled to our country where they had important conversations with the DGGM, the International Maritime University of Panama (UMIP) and Columbus University, and preformed interviews with cadets and officers.
1- Two partial scholarships were obtained in the Republic of Cyprus, so that Panamanian students may perform their maritime university degree in this country, and once finished they can opt to obtain their Officer on Watch (OOW) license.
2- In the Republic of Ukraine, a country in Eastern Europe, with which Panama established diplomatic relations in 1993, we have achieved five (5) partial scholarships so Panamanian officers can do their “promotion courses” in a Maritime Formation Center authorized by de AMP.
3- Partial scholarships were obtained so Panamanians can course studies in the culinary area, which, once finished, may opt for their license as Ship’s Cook Certificate (SCC).
17. Agreements signed in benefit of Panamanian seafarers:
The DGGM is currently coordinating and unifying efforts with different maritime, logistical and port guilds, maritime universities both public and private, with the goal of maintaining a permanent dialog to work as a single integrated team as we all have in common that we believe in the potential that Panama possess and most of all in its seafarers.
a. With the company SAAM S.A. and with its subsidiary SAAM Towage Panama, Inc.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the company SAAM S.A. and the subsidiary SAAM Towage Panama, Inc., for a renewable period of five years, through which a framework of cooperation will be established to achieve the creation of academic actions and the promotion of job opportunities for officers, cadets, and junior Panamanian staff, which will have a positive impact on the performance of their duties.
b. The Commonwealth of The Bahamas:
The Renewal of the Agreement concerning the Mutual Recognition of Training and Certification was signed in accordance with Rule I / 10 of the International Convention on Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Standards for Seafarers, 1978, Amended (Convention STCW’78), between the Maritime Authority of the Bahamas and the AMP, which will benefit Panamanian seafarers who work on Bahamian ships, by giving continuity to their jobs on cargo and passenger ships. In addition, new job opportunities will open for sailors and Panamanian officers.
c. United Arab Emirates:
The Update of the Agreement concerning the Mutual Recognition of Training and Certification was held in accordance with Rule I / 10 of the International Convention on Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Standards for Seafarers, 1978, Amended (Convention STCW’78), between the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure of the United Arab Emirates and the AMP.
Updating with this important power in the offshore resource exploitation sector will contribute to promoting collaboration between both institutions, so that future efforts remain focused on improving the training of competence levels and qualification processes for seafarers, who guarantee the safety of human life and property at sea, maritime protection, and the protection of the marine environment. It will also facilitate the embarkation or contract of Panamanian seafarers to work on board their vessels.
18. Statements for the purpose of promoting vaccination
We have expressed our support for the various declarations and guidelines that are coordinated at the national and international level with the purpose of promoting the COVID-19 vaccination of seafarers, consequently adding ourselves to the following statements:
a. “Joint declaration about the concession to prioritize seafarers and aircrew for COVID-19 Vaccination.” Signed on March 25th, 2021 by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), International Maritime Organization (IMO) the International Labor Organization (ILO)and International Organization for Migration (IOM) through the circular letter IMO No. 4204/Add.38 March 25th, 2021. In this declaration, the aforementioned organizations emphasize how the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has had devastating consequences for life and economy, highlighting that maritime and aerial transport are 2 essential activities to reach economic recuperation.
b. “Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change”
By which the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), welcomes the commitment taken by shipowners, charterers, NGO, and industry clusters by affirming the Neptune Declaration and was pleased with the commitment taken by companies and organizations that signed the Declaration, initiative driven by the Global Maritime Forum.
c. “Resolution concerning COVID-19 vaccination for seafarers”, approved in the Fourth meeting of the Special Tripartite Committee of the Maritime Labor Convention established by the administrative council of the International Labor Organization (ILO) under Article XIII of the Maritime Labor Convention 2006, as amended (MLC, 2006, amended), and during which this Resolution was issued, that urges members to guarantee access as soon as possible to seafarers to the vaccine against COVID-19.
19. Advances for future agreements in favor of seafarers:
In the framework of the thirty-second meeting of the IMO, the first advances for future agreements benefiting seafarers were given. More than 15 meetings were held bilaterally with countries of interest like Singapore, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, as well as the European Union and the United States.
20. Preparations for audits:
We have made the necessary internal adjustments, in preparation to receive the different audits that will be performed in the future, including:
• External audit to be carried out by the international certifier Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance (LRQA), as part of the recertification to the ISO 9001: 2015 Quality Management System (QMS).
• Audit to be carried out by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to all its Member States, to determine the degree to which these States fully and effectively comply with the obligations and responsibilities contained in these Agreements, on 2022, and to maintain the Republic of Panama on the IMO “White List”, based on verification of the implementation and compliance with the STCW’78 Convention, as amended.
• Audit to be performed by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), in compliance with European Union Directive No. 2008/106 / EC, as amended, and the International Convention on Training, Certification and Guarding of Seafarers, as amended. (STCW’78, amended), with the purpose that the Republic of Panama can be accredited as a “Third Country” before the European Commission, which aims to achieve recognition of the qualifications and proficiency certificates issued by the DGGM of the AMP, by the Maritime Administrations of the member countries of the European Union, which may translate into greater employment opportunities for our seafarers.
These audits will be performed to measure the degree of compliance with the obligations and responsibilities included in the Conventions, both national and international, to which we are signatories, as well as a requirement of the ISO 9001: 2015 Standard that establishes the responsibilities of the Quality Management System (SGC) in order to provide our users with a high degree of efficiency and performance service.