News 2020

On 24 September, IMO celebrates the World Maritime Day together with the rest of the shipping community. This year's theme "Sustainable Shipping for a Sustainable Planet" puts the focus back on environment protection and the role the shipping industry plays in it.


The importance of the shipping industry has once again become evident during the corona pandemic. A functioning trade network connects the world and helps to support all parts of the world at a global level. When rebuilding the economy after this crisis, shipping will play a central role, according to Kitack Lim, IMO Secretary General. And this is also why this year's theme of the World Maritime Day "Sustainable Shipping for a Sustainable Planet" is so vital. Shipping has to become more environmentally friendly to play its part in leading the world into a sustainable future.

Already, the IMO makes an effort towards this goal having introduced several environment requirements such as energy efficiency for ships, sulphur limits for fuel, provisions for sewage and garbage etc. Thereby, the IMO and the shipping industry implement some of the 17 sustainable development goals as part of the Agenda 2030 of the United Nations. Further plans to protect the environment are being planned, such as the reduction of green house gases produced by maritime traffic.

Especially, because the crucial importance of shipping and its employees has become evident during this pandemic, the current situation on board many ships worldwide will be a topic at the World Maritime Day 2020. On many ships, crew changes have not been possible for many months. At land, many seafarers wait to commence their service, and receive the wages they need, while on board, seafarers are waiting to be relieved as they worry about their family during the pandemic and require a break from their work out at sea, not just from the perspective of labour law but also from a humanitarian perspective.

On 24 September Secretary General Lim will hold an online panel where he and other experts of the topic sustainable shipping will speak. Via Twitter @IMOHQ and the hashtag #WorldMaritimeDay anyone can participate in the discussion.

Equipment approved according to the EU Marine Equipment Directive and provided with the wheelmark had so far been published in the MarED Database. Recently, a new MED Database by the EU Commission under the umbrella of EMSA (European Maritime Safety Agency) was established.


The approval of marine equipment is subject to a multistage certification process carried out by notified bodies under the EU Marine Equipment Directive. At the end of the certification, a so-called wheelmark is attached to the approved equipment item; it shows that the approval is valid all-over Europe. Equipment requiring approval includes life-saving appliances, equipment for marine pollution prevention, fire protection equipment, navigation and radio-communication equipment, equipment required under COLREG and under SOLAS Chapter II-1.
An updated Implementing Regulation listing all of the approved equipment along with the individual approval requirements supplementing the Marine Equipment Directive is published annually. The approval process is outlined in the Directive itself.

The new MED Database by the EU Commission is maintained by EMSA (European Maritime Safety Agency). It lists in detail the ship's equipment that has been approved. After a registration, the following can be found:

  • manufacturer, product information, approval information and approving body,
  • the Directive as well as any amendments currently in force.

In comparison to the former database, some changes have been introduced: manufactures can now actively participate in the new system and add information on their product. Adding an e-tag facilitates further functions. In addition, the market surveillance authorities have an extended access to product data.

Now, after some test participants of the different user groups tested the new MED Database with regard to its functionality, it is open to the public with the data sets from the old system as well as all current entries.

The previously used MarED Database remains online on the website of MarED (Group of Notified Bodies for the Implementation of the European Marine Equipment Directive) but is no longer updated.

Further information on the topic approval of marine equipment is given under our heading "Construction · Equipment".

Medical equipment for sea-going ships does not come under the export stop of the EU which has recently been enacted because of the Corona pandemic. This has now been clarified by the EU Commission. Therefore, pharmacies can supply the required equipment for the on-board pharmacy without impediment.

Due to the current Corona pandemic, the EU Commission has recently enacted to permit the export of medical protective equipment only after an official export authorisation (Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/402 of 14 March 2020). Subsequently, some pharmacies were not able to supply without impediment the mandatory gloves and face masks as part of the medical equipment on board German-flagged sea-going vessel.

The Directorates-General for Mobility and Transport (DG Move) and Taxation and Customs (DG TAXUD) of the EU Commission have now clarified in a joint communication to the German Shipowners' Association (VDR) of 23 March that medical equipment for sea-going vessels does not come under the current export restriction. This is based on a special regulation for ship equipment. According to Article 269 Paragraph 2 letter c of Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 (Union Customs Code): "goods delivered, VAT or excise duty exempted, as [...] ship supplies are not subject to customs formalities in relation to export from the EU customs area - and therefore are also not subject to the current export restrictions for medical protective equipment.

Notwithstanding customs restrictions, pharmacies equipping ships can continue to supply and send medical protective equipment to sea-going ships.

The World Maritime University with its headquarters at Malmö/Sweden has always been supported in many different ways by the Federal Republic of Germany. The association "Friends of WMU Germany e.V." extends this German support to the maritime sector in general, and thus facilitates cooperation with the World Maritime University.

Maritime internationality finds an expression in the World Maritime University. The WMU was founded in 1983 at an Assembly meeting of the International Maritime Organisation IMO as an UN institution. In many countries outside of Europe and North America, appropriate educational facilities to realize the UN's sustainability goals for protection and usage of the seas do not exist.

At three locations over the world – Malmö/Sweden the main location, Shanghai/China and Dalian/China – maritime-related courses of study offer the students to expand their knowledge and further develop their ongoing career in the maritime sector in an international setting. Various Master and PhD programmes as well as programmes for professional development offer the opportunity to influence the future of maritime shipping. Many graduates afterwards take on important positions as maritime executives in industry, politics and administration in their countries. The study contents range from safety, environment protection in shipping, to ocean governance and maritime executive issues. The WMU takes part in a variety of research projects all over the world that help gain new insights into sustainable maritime development.

So far 5 000 students from 165 countries have studied at WMU. The establishment of the association "Friends of WMU Germany e.V." further deepens the partnership between Germany and the WMU. The Federal Republic of Germany has supported the WMU since its foundation. Among other things, it financially supported the studies of Kitack Lim, the current IMO Secretary General.

Friends of WMU Germany e.V.

The association is located in Hamburg, hence why the WMU president Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry and Prof. Jens-Uwe Schröder-Hinrichs as well as 17 founding members of the German maritime politics, administration, industry and academia met at a legal office in Hamburg for the inaugural meeting. By election, the board is headed by Reinhard Klingen head of the Central Affairs Department at the Ministry for Traffic and Digital Infrastructure and further consists of Frank Leonhardt of the shipping company Leonhardt & Blumberg and Dr. Axel Henriksen, Rechtsanwälte Blaum Dettmers Rabstein.

As the university is mostly financed through fees, non-material and/or financial support are important so that a high-quality education and profound, far-reaching research remain possible. The association extends the German support to the larger maritime sector. The purpose of the association is not just providing financial support but also developing the study contents through cooperation with the university, mediate cooperation for research and field studies as well as, generally, work as a network between the German maritime sector and maritime academia.

In its Annual Report 2019 on the German Maritime Labour Act, the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr comprehensively presents how it verified compliance with the requirements of the German Maritime Labour Act throughout the last year. A guidance document on the topic "Working and living on board" aids with the implementation of the German Maritime Labour Act.

Since 2013 the Maritime Labour Act implements the International Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) on ships under German flag. With these provisions, mandatory and comprehensive regulations regarding working and living conditions of seafarers have been established. Important topics like hours of work and rest, food and catering, payment of wages, occupational health on board and many more are now clearly regulated and are verified on a regular basis.

36 MLC surveyors inspect international ships abroad and nationally regarding their compliance with the requirements of the Convention for the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr. Maritime Labour Certificates and Fishing Labour Certificates are typically issued as electronic certificates by now.

The employees of the ISM / ILO Department attend to complaints of seafarers about working and living conditions, approve private recruitment agencies and ensure that shipping companies under German flag are informed about current topics of this topic area. The ISM / ILO Department has now published its Annual Report 2019.

MLC Annual Report 2018

In the middle of the year 2018, the fully revised Guidelines on the implementation of the Maritime Labour Act on board of German flagged ships was published. Compared to its previous version, the experts of the Ship Safety Division completely revised the topic area health and safety protection and accident prevention. New information about drinking water on sea-going ships as well as maps of the trading areas for medical equipment were added. For the first time, the Guidelines contain specific information about contracts of employment and hours of work and rest for work on board fishing vessels.

With this QR Code, you can download the MLC Guidelines directly to your phone and have them at the ready whenever you need them:

QR-Code MLC-Leitfaden