Landmark agreement to boost seafarers’ welfare 

A formal agreement between the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Merchant Navy Welfare Board will boost the welfare of seafarers around the UK, including Merseyside

John Wilson
John Wilson, chief executive of Liverpool Seafarers’ Centre


A landmark agreement has been signed to boost the welfare of seafarers and fishers around the UK including those visiting ports such as Liverpool, Birkenhead, Eastham, Ellesmere Port, Runcorn and the Manchester ship canal.

The formal agreement between the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB) sets out ways both will work together to coordinate their approach to the provision of welfare.

The Memorandum of Understanding sets out the specific responsibilities of the two organisations, as well as committing to sharing information about matters affecting seafarers’ and fishers’ welfare, seeking advice and consulting on other issues.

The MoU formally designates the MNWB as the UK’s National Seafarers’ Welfare Board in accordance with ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006.

The MNWB is the umbrella charity for the UK Merchant Navy and fishing fleets, with 45 constituent member organisations providing welfare support to serving and retired UK seafarers, and their families.

John Wilson, of Liverpool Seafarers’ Centre and chair of North West MNWB Port Welfare Committee, said: “MNWB is an exemplary organisation which is now receiving worldwide recognition in the provision of seafarers’ welfare services, raising the profile of and the importance to both the UK and worldwide economy that seafaring brings in the transportation of goods and services.

“It tirelessly encourages and supports the PWCs in their efforts and this has been evident throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. I recognise the importance of collaborating with colleagues on both a local and national basis to maintain and uphold the highest standards of seafarer welfare.”

The potential of a working partnership with the MNWB has already been seen – alongside The Seafarers’ Charity – with the provision of free mobile WiFi units for those seafarers stuck on ships during the pandemic, so they could stay in touch with friends and family.

Robert Courts, Maritime Minister, said: “The MCA and the Merchant Navy Welfare Board have been doing a fantastic job of supporting seafarers during the pandemic. 

“Signing a formal agreement reinforces our commitment to put welfare at the heart of the maritime industry both domestically and internationally, giving seafarers that extra assurance as we rebuild the sector and look to the future.”

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