French legislation contradicting STCW revoked

An agent of the French Maritime Affairs Department inspects fishermen. Credit: PASCAL GUYOT/AFP via Getty Images)

Proposed legislation to allocate some of the master’s responsibilities to the chief engineer in an emergency situation was shut down at a meeting in Paris this week.

The proposed modification to the law is in direct contradiction to Regulation 1/1.1.6 of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), of which France is a signatory.

The legislation would have applied to French-flagged ships, where the chief engineer could only have taken command if he was French. The French International Register dictate that 25% of crew be from EU countries, while the captain and his relief must be EU citizens with working knowledge of the French language and maritime legal matters or French nationals.

The meeting took place between government representatives from the Maritime Affairs Department, which proposed the new legislation; maritime syndicates; shipowner representatives; and a representative from the French Association of Shipmasters (AFCAN).

“AFCAN was astonished that this motion was being put forward and how it was completely at odds with international maritime standards,” said Bertrant de Reines, secretary general at AFCAN, speaking to SAS.

During the meeting, a government representative said that the proposed legislation had been shelved; however, it has not officially been abandoned. The representative of AFCAN, who was present at the meeting, said he had the feeling that it had not occurred to anyone proposing the legislation that it was completely at odds with STCW. The proposal had been on the government’s agenda for months prior to the meeting.

“AFCAN stays up to date and vigilant when it comes to new proposed legislation concerning maritime affairs and should this issue be brought back to the table, we will put forward the same arguments we did before to defeat it,” said de Reines.

De Reines also maintained that AFCAN’s members regularly check government websites where projected modifications to laws concerning maritime affairs are posted. Should anything like this come up, it is brought to AFCAN’s attention; it will then petition the government on the member’s behalf – this is how the organisation ensures such legislation does not go through.