No-deal Brexit could limit seafarers in the UK

Two notices released by the government last month highlighted the threats posed to UK seafarers should a no-deal Brexit occur.

These were listed among twenty-eight technical notices detailing how to minimise the impact of a no-deal split from the European Union; the two shipping-related notices (which can be found here) covered maritime security and seafarer certifications.

What seafarer certifications may be affected?

The notice identifies the standards for employment in the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), alongside the requirements for a Certificate of Equivalent Competency (CEC) and Certificate of Competency (CoC).

If certain measures are not put in place, recognition of UK flagship operators under these certifications may be threatened by a no-deal Brexit. UK Chambers Policy Director, Tim Springett, stated that: “The UK will need to secure recognition by the European Commission as a third country if UK CoC's are to be accepted for service on ships registered under EU flags.”

Under current plans, the UK government will still accept the validity of CoC’s from other EU countries, which would permit UK-flagged ships to recruit their operators from Europe. However, Springett warned that if the UK’s relationship with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) was to deteriorate, the UK may not be treated with the same courtesy.

What about port security?

In the second notice, the government acknowledges that current scheduled services moving between UK and EU ports are exempt from security declarations. If no deals are secured during Brexit negotiations, then maritime stakeholders in the UK could potentially be required to submit certain information ahead of time for access and clearance at an EU port.

As a result of these notices, the UK Chamber of Shipping has urged the government to consider what is at stake for UK seafarers and take the appropriate steps moving forward to ensure that a no-deal Brexit creates as little disruption as possible for marine trade.