Transport Canada has issued a new ship safety bulletin reminding vessel owners and operators that they are required under the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC 2006) to grant shore leave to their crews on board. More specifically, the bulletin notes that “Authorized representatives of foreign ships in Canadian waters are expected to make every effort to approve shore leave for seafarers as soon as possible after a ship’s arrival in port, which is essential for seafarer physical and mental health.”
The bulletin also notes that Transport Canada officers will verify compliance with the shore leave requirement during the course of regular port state control inspections, and if contraventions are identified, the vessel will not be allowed to proceed to sea until the necessary corrective actions have been taken.
The shore leave issue was discussed at the most recent meeting of the National Seafarers’ Welfare Board (which the Federation is a member of), at which time Transport Canada reported that according to its figures, shore leave is not being granted in as many as 75 percent of ships undergoing port state control inspections on the west coast.
Although it was pointed out that the reluctance of some ships to grant shore leave is due, at least in part, to challenging entry restrictions and quarantine requirements at other ports of call (particularly in China), Transport Canada nevertheless affirmed into intention to enforce the shore leave requirement as fully as possible.
Given the above, we strongly recommend that members share this bulletin with their principals in order to ensure they are aware of shore leave requirements for foreign seafarers under MLC 2006, and of Transport Canada’s enhanced interest in this issue.
We also take this opportunity to remind members that vaccinations for unvaccinated seafarers can be arranged at most Canadian ports. Additional information can be found by consulting our website or contacting us directly.