The Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure is intensifying its efforts to ensure the safety and security of the maritime sector as well protect the rights of seafarers on board ships in the UAE waters and ports. This is in line with Cabinet resolution number (71) for 2021, regarding marine wrecks and violating ships in UAE waters or calling UAE ports, which will come into effect from 15 September 2021. The Ministry’s efforts support the UAE Government’s ongoing efforts to protect the UAE waters and marine environment, and reduce marine wrecks that may cause incidents.
The resolution obligates ship owners and operating companies to adhere to implementing it. It provides a legal framework for all government agencies concerned with safety and protecting the marine environment in coordination with the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure. These entities include the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, the competent judicial and legal authorities, and the local government entities concerned with dealing with marine wrecks and debris in their waters. The resolution with its provisions and articles constitute a legal reference for all stakeholders to protect their rights. It obliges all UAE flag ships and foreign flag ships in UAE waters or calling UAE ports to fulfill their obligations.
His Excellency Eng. Suhail Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure in the UAE, said: “The UAE is a globally-leading maritime hub, with over 25,000 ships calling its ports. This position is supported by the country’s strategic location at the gateway to the Arabian Gulf, the largest oil reserve in the world. The UAE also overlooks the Arabian Sea, which is at the heart of global trade routes. All of this requires us to pay great attention to the safety of our waters and waterways, which are the main artery for the movement of cargo ships coming to our ports, which are the top commercial gateway in the region.”
His Excellency said that as per the resolution, the Ministry will make the UAE a centre of maritime excellence, a benchmark for best practices and a zone free from violations that harm humans or threaten the environment. The UAE’s global position in the trade and logistics sectors will help in mainstreaming these practices as they will be binding for everyone who deals with the global supply chain through the UAE ports.
Al Mazrouei added: “In addition to the active ship movement in the waters of the UAE, which ranked 13th globally in the efficiency of seaport services index, it enjoys a unique geographical nature with a coastline extending more than 1,650 km. The UAE has more than 230 islands, many of which are habitat to rare aquatic life. That’s why, we must take proactive measures to protect these vast areas and extended coasts, and contain anything that could cause marine debris, especially violating and abandoned ships. We monitor the UAE waters to ensure that there are no violators, in line with the Cabinet resolution."
His Excellency emphasised that the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure places people at its top priority. That’s why, it is keen on protecting the rights of seafarers, and does not tolerate any violations by ship owners or operators towards seafarers. This includes their financial rights, working with dignity and living in favourable conditions.
His Excellency Eng. Hassan Mohamed Jumaa Al Mansoori, Undersecretary of the Infrastructure and Transport Affairs at the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, explained the strategic importance of this resolution for the UAE being a member of the Executive Council of the International Maritime Organisation in Category B. “According to the Cabinet Resolution, the ship shall be considered in violation and legal action will be taken against it if the ship owner or operator fails to pay the salaries of seafarers for two or more months. Thus, neglecting the rights of seafarers may cause ships to be seized or sold, whether they carry the UAE flag or any other flag. The rights of seafarers cannot be compromised, and the UAE waters are off limits for those who do not provide them with comfortable working and living conditions,” he said.
Al Mansoori added: "We will get the support of all stakeholders in the UAE maritime sector to form a united front to protect the environment and the rights of seafarers. That’s why, we will organise the Maritime Leaders Forum, which will bring together all stakeholders in the industry including government and private organisations, ship owners, ship agents &operators, legal experts, classification societies, and port authorities, to reach the best solutions that guarantee the marine sector’s compliance with the procedures for protecting the marine environment and ensuring no infringement on the rights of seafarers."
His Excellency Sheikh Nasser Majid Al-Qasimi, Assistant Undersecretary for the Infrastructure and Transport at the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure said: “The pandemic caused significant losses to the global economy, and reduced international trade by more than 20%. This prompted some ship owners and unprofessional charter companies to infringe upon the rights of seafarers to save operating expenses, or neglect maintenance work for their ships. This caused some of these ships to become marine wrecks; blocking shipping routes and cargo ship transit channels towards the main ports, as well as impeding the docking of ships. Therefore, the UAE has taken a proactive step by issuing this resolution, to ensure that these types of vessel cannot reach the country’s ports or territorial waters; eliminating the root of problem.”