THE AUSTRALIAN Maritime Safety Authority recently issued a marine notice reminding shipping companies and ship owners and masters of their obligation to grant visiting seafarers shore leave.

Seafarers right to shore leave is enshrined in the Maritime Labour Convention 2006. Regulation 2.4 of the convention notes shore leave is of benefit to seafarers’ health and wellbeing.

“Companies are responsible for crew health, safety, and wellbeing,” AMSA said in notice 08/2022—Access to shore leave for seafarers.

“Shore leave and access to shore-based welfare facilities is key to seafarer physical and mental health recovery and reduces risks of fatigue.”

AMSA’s announcement coincides with the further easing of COVID restrictions across Australian states and territories.

It said it recognises the risks associated with COVID are still “highly relevant” and cannot be eliminated entirely, but there are suitable and acceptable means of allowing seafarers to take shore leave safely.

“AMSA expects that companies strongly consider the benefits to seafarer wellbeing and recovery when assessing the risks of allowing shore leave to crews,” it said.

“AMSA reminds companies that the decision to grant shore leave should not be based on financial implications.

“AMSA port state control officers may take action when there are clear grounds to believe the master or officers in charge of ships have not complied with the requirements as set out in the MLC 2006, for seafarer shore leave.”