BMA Official Examines Port Newark Ministry

Mar 15, 2011

by Douglas B. Stevenson, Director, Center for Seafarers' Rights

Christine Scavella, who heads the Bahamas Maritime Authority office in New York City, recently paid a visit to the Seamen's Church Institute's (SCI) International Seafarers' Center in Port Newark. She wanted to observe port chaplains' work among seafarers firsthand in a seafarers' center and aboard ships. She visited ships with SCI port chaplain the Rev. Marjorie Lindstrom and toured our newly renovated seafarers' center in Port Newark.

Scavella examined SCI's operation in Port Newark with an eye toward opening a similar facility in The Bahamas. "The Bahamas takes its responsibilities under the Maritime Labour Convention very seriously," Scavella said, "including those relating to providing shore-based welfare facilities." The Bahamas was among the first countries to ratify the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC), one of the most significant developments in the long history of seafarers' rights law. Scavella said, "With SCI's help, we hope that a new seafarers' center can be established in The Bahamas very soon."

About the MLC, 2006

In a single convention, the MLC, 2006 provides a comprehensive statement of seafarers' rights reflecting modern shipping realities. With the important underlying principle of respecting and honoring merchant mariners, convention authors wrote a document easy to understand, capable of ratification, and enforceable.

The MLC, 2006 comes into force after 30 countries with 33% of the world shipping tonnage have ratified it. (The 12 countries that have ratified the Convention so far have met the tonnage requirements.) I expect that the MLC, 2006 will achieve 30 ratifications threshold this year and that it will come into force in 2012.