Seafarers’ rights to shore leave have been strengthened under new amendments to the IMO’s Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic, known as the FAL Convention.
The amendment to the international standard on shore leave adds a new provision on top of the requirement to allow crew ashore while the ship they arrive on is in port.
The provision states that there should be no discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, religion, nationality, political opinion, or social origin when granting shore leave. In addition, the amendment says that shore leave should be given regardless of the flag state of the ship.
If a leave request is turned down, the relevant public authorities must provide an explanation to the crew member or master. Seafarers can request that this explanation is provided in writing.
The amendments to the FAL Convention also include a new requirement for national governments to introduce electronic information exchange, including electronic data interchange, to transmit information related to maritime transport.
The IMO has said that the technology should be in place by 8 April 2019, though the provision permits a transitional period of at least 12 months during which paper and electronic documents are still allowed.
Use of a "single window" for data is encouraged to enable all the information required by public authorities in connection with the arrival, stay, and departure of ships, persons, and cargo, to be submitted via a single portal without duplication.
The FAL Convention has a total of 118 contracting states. The new amendments entered into force globally on 1 January.