A Welfare Board is a committee or forum that works to support and improve the welfare of seafarers. It provides a forum where people from organisations that deal with the welfare of resident and visiting seafarers can meet to discuss and coordinate their actions. The organisations that normally benefit from Welfare Board representation are as follows: Flag States and Port State Control, Port Owners & Authorities; Ship Owners and their representatives; Coastguard; Unions and their Inspectors, maritime welfare charities and their Ship Welfare Visitors.
A local Welfare Board (Port Welfare Committee) may serve the seafarers and fishers of one port, or it may cover several ports in different locations. A number of Welfare Boards/Port Welfare Committees may be organised as part of a national body, known as a National Seafarers’ Welfare Board (NSWB).
In accordance with national laws, regulations, conditions and practice and in line with MLC, 2006 Regulations and Guidelines, Welfare Boards can benefit seafarers and the rest of the maritime community as follows:
- Provides an independent, impartial forum to improve cooperation between public authorities, ship owners, unions, ports and voluntary organisations.
- Ensures seafarers and fishers have easy access to shore-based facilities and services
- Ensures seafarers and fishers re appropriately cared for and protected in a safe environment
- Promotes the development of appropriate port welfare facilities and report on underutilized facilities
- Conducts welfare reviews to adapt to the changing needs of the shipping industry
- Consults with competent authorities to promote and improve welfare facilities and services in ports
- Promotes the pooling of resources and help avoid unnecessary duplication of effort
- Encourages the organisation of shore-based welfare seminars, activities and events for seafarers and, where appropriate, fishers.
- Encourages financial support for port welfare facilities from public funds; levies or other special dues from shipping sources and voluntary contributions
- Ensures any welfare taxes, levies and special dues are used only for the purposes for which they are raised
- Supports the production and disseminated of general port information among seafarers
- Supports adequate means of transportation at reasonable times and, where applicable at moderate prices
- Ensures shipowners and seafarers entering a country or port are aware of any special laws and customs that may contravene or jeopardize their freedom
- Monitors compliance with the ISPS Code to ensure seafarers have access to shore-based welfare facilities
- Provides a lobbying organisation for improvements to seafarers’ welfare
- Produces valuable feedback on welfare programmes, projects and events to funding organisations
- Provides representation at international, national and local welfare forums
- Promotes seafarers’ visibility to non-seafarers.
The ongoing pandemic has devastated shore leave. As such the men and women who live and work at sea have been away from their families and friends for many months, working long hours at demanding jobs, landing at foreign countries for short periods of time. A rare port visit offers an important opportunity for a seafarer to receive care, to communicate with their families, to see a doctor, to seek advice or visit local shops. Welfare Boards support the welfare providers who provide these services and help improve the lives of seafarers. If you are interested in starting or participating in a Welfare Board sign up now.