International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), seafarers’ unions, and port authorities named the Palau Flag of Convenience registry as one of the “worst flags” operating in the Mediterranean Sea.
According to the ITF website, up p to a thousand ships flagged to the Cook Islands, Palau, Sierra Leone, and Togo will be the subject of safety, maintenance, and seafarer welfare inspections across the Mediterranean Sea in the coming eight weeks.
These are now the worst flags operating in the Mediterranean Sea,” said Seddik Berrama, General Secretary of Algeria’s transport union FNTT and ITF Vice President for the Arab World region.
Substandard shipping in the Mediterranean Sea is driving down seafarers’ wages and conditions, it’s endangering the lives of crew and risking our environment,” said ITF Inspectorate Coordinator Steve Trowsdale.
“These flags take money from shipowners to register ships that other countries wouldn’t touch. Many are old vessels and are poorly maintained by their owners. Many of these ships are dangerous and should not be trading,” he said.
The statement further stated that in just three years, the Cook Islands, Palau, Sierra Leone, and Togo flags were responsible for 33 cases of crew abandonment, affecting more than a hundred seafarers, leaving many without pay, food, water, or a way to get home.
The report said the four flags of convenience are also responsible for over $5,500,000 USD in unpaid wages cheated from the crew, which the ITF then had to recover from the flags’ shipowners on the seafarers’ behalf.
It added that there were also 5,203 deficiencies or detentions issued by European Port State Control enforcement agencies to these fur registries.
Palau is on the “Grey List” of the Paris MOU on Port State Control which is the official agreement between the 27 participating Maritime Authorities implementing a harmonized system of Port State Control.