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CONFERENCE Archive
Keynote Address
Philip Wake, MSc FNI
Chief Executive The Nautical Institute

It is a pleasure to be here again in Odessa and it seems amazing that 8 years have flown by since my last visit. I am sure that much has changed in that time - not least the complete renovation of your beautiful Opera House which I had the pleasure of visiting last night.
I thank the organisers of this conference for the opportunity to address such a distinguished gathering of legal minds, and I am delighted that The Nautical Institute of the Ukraine has given its support to this important event. It is not often that we on the operational side of shipping get to address lawyers when you are not earning money, so I will be brief.
Before you get into the excellent debates of how to better resolve or even avoid commercial disputes, I would like to touch on just two of the issues that cause The Nautical Institute and its members' great concern.
The first is the increasing trend to criminalise seafarers. I am not talking about those who deliberately flout the law - they deserve to get the book thrown at them, although you should try to discover if they did so under duress. No - I am talking about those who have been involved in an accident. Yes - they may have been at fault but they are not criminals. Similarly, those innocently caught up in the transport of drugs beneath or in their ships are the victims not the perpetrators. Yet - there is a tendency in some supposedly civilised countries to treat these seafarers as guilty until proven innocent. Let there be no doubt that this trend is doing an immense disservice to this great industry of ours. It is driving experienced seafarers into early retirement; it is persuading many others to seek shore jobs rather than have their livelihood ruined; and it is turning off the maritime industry as an attraction to the young.
You can already see the results in your work, I am sure - rising levels of collisions and groundings on thinly manned ships with inexperience in all ranks. One might say, they are an accident waiting to happen. Good news for some of you perhaps but I would ask you to do everything in your power with your legal colleagues, government departments, and general public to halt this trend of criminalisation.
These and other issues will be discussed at our series of command seminars this year focusing on the Command Team and the Designated
Person. The first is in Antwerp on 12th - 13th June and I hope to see many of you there.
The other issue is manning and fatigue. The latter can occur even on well manned ships due to their schedules and fast turnround times, so I ask you to be aware of that in your dealings with the master and crew. There are of course hours of work and rest regulations but the mis-reporting of these is widespread. The 'can - do' attitude of seafarers is perhaps their worst enemy in this, and a change of culture is necessary at sea and in management ashore.
The most serious manning and fatigue issue though is in those smaller vessels operated with just the master and mate as the watchkeepers. Mostly these are coastal ships operating in congested waters to a demanding schedule. The navigation requires constant vigilance and the weather is often poor. These are conditions in which any good seaman would want extra manpower on the Bridge. The master should be available at such times but on these ships, the master will be out of hours and fatigued from his own watchkeeping.
The master/mate practice must end but some flag states have blocked attempts to debate it at the IMO. Whatever its effects on the already poor image of shipping, we will have to generate political and public support for this change if the industry itself will not act to improve the safety of these ships and the traffic they meet.
I would not wish to end on such a sour note so I ask your patience whilst I make 3 important presentations. The Nautical Institute is first and foremost an international membership organisation and the recruitment of new members plus retention is its life blood. As such it is appropriate that we recognise achievers in these vital activities.
Leading these efforts here in the Ukraine is Professor Vladimir Torskiy, Fellow of the Institute, who has recruited 15 new members in the past two years and is therefore awarded all three of the Recognition Awards - Blue, Silver and Gold.
I am also delighted that two of these new members are here today to receive their Certificate of Membership: Andrey Suprunenko and Nikolay Melnikov.
Finally, my thanks to your Chairman and another Institute member: Arthur Nitsevich.

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