Tue, 21 Mar 2000

Some 40,000 Indonesian sailors feared to lose jobs in 2001

JAKARTA (JP): As many as 40,000 Indonesian sailors could lose their jobs next year because their skills do not meet the standards set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the minister of sea exploration and fisheries said on Monday.

However, Sarwono Kusumaatmaja said the government would request that the IMO postpone full enforcement of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) until 2004.

Indonesia would have to present detailed information about its programs to comply with the convention before the end of the year, he said, adding that failure to meet the deadline could mean the disqualification of 40,000 sailors.

"If we can make the report we will be given until 2004 to implement the standard completely," Sarwono said on the sidelines of a national seminar on Indonesia Maritime 2000.

IMO requires governments to provide information concerning administrative measures taken to ensure compliance with the convention, education and training courses, certification procedures and other factors relevant to implementation.

A committee consisting of the Directorate General of Sea Transportation, the Department of Sea Exploration and Fisheries, Department of National Education and Department of Human Resources, would rush to compile and send the report on time, Sarwono said.

The convention was issued by IMO -- the United Nation's agency responsible for improving maritime safety and preventing pollution from ships -- in 1978 and was amended in 1995.

The purpose of the convention, which was put into action by IMO on Feb. 1, 1997, is to ensure that the education and training of seafarers in the use of aids to navigation, ships' equipment and devices was sufficiently comprehensive and was kept satisfactorily up to date.

Sarwono also said that he would go to Britain and France on Thursday for preliminary studies on technologies that could support Monitoring Controlling Surveillance (MCS) systems which would allow the government to keep track of all ships in Indonesian waters.

"We want the best and most effective technology available so we will not be at the mercy of other nations' technology," he said.

MCS is an electronically based surveillance system that consists of radar, satellite, and radio.

Sarwono said the government would gradually build the system according to priority.

In the absence of an effective monitoring system, Indonesian waters have been vulnerable to illegal fishing by foreign vessels using dynamite which has caused the destruction of coral reefs.

"Without MCS we can only rely on patrol ships to secure our waters," he said. (10)