Meeting Minutes: COPE° Working group on Psychological Safety and Sexual Assault and Harassment in the Maritime Sector

TUES, 17 JANUARY 2023 | 7:00 AM EST

1) Welcome and Introduction

Proposed new members.

There were no objections to the submission of these new members, therefore everyone is very much welcomed to participate and to become a member of the COPE° working group.

2) Activities and Scope of Work

a) Review and amend existing IMO Model Course 1.21 PSSR & Evaluate and provide training options

The IMO Sub- committee on Human Element Training and Watchkeeping – HTW9 – is meeting from 6 February to 10 February in London. Members of this group are invited to observe this meeting when they are interested, please contact Eva when this is the case.

Actions we need to take for this meeting:

  1. Preparing the visit to IMO in London and plenary introduction at HTW9, focusing on both the document we submitted, as well as on the term psychological safety.
  2. Schedule a quick meeting before 6 February to discuss the HTW meeting preparations.

The work we did last year, amending Model Course 1.21 on PSSR can be used as a basis for further work and developing training material. Which will be freely available for all.

We will start building curriculum on NEMO° Psychological Safety course. Goal is to focus on psychological safety, bullying and SASH build course around these subjects, (use additional time suggested).

  1. Formulate outcomes and objectives. Material and documents to formulate.
  2. Set up and share the NEMO° course template.
  3. Build the course and work collectively.
  4. Test course with students, provide it on NEMO°.

We will move this work into a new sub-group. Everyone who is willing to contribute or participate in this work is kindly invited.

b) Awareness and response

Output and information from the group, that is relevant for mariners and other maritime professionals, will be shared online by means of different channels. The working group will be open to hear the voice of the industry and take information into consideration.

  • The next The COPE° Podcast episode is planned for Thursday 19 January at 18.00 GMT. Eva, Patti and Koni will talk about “Speaking up”.
    • Please find all previous episodes, including the new one, HERE
    • Everyone is welcomed and invited to participate in these podcasts.
    • Nancy Karigithu will be on the next podcast episode with us.
    • MIWB students from Welmoed her class, reviewed the podcast episodes and had some great feedback
    • Hannah and Eva will work on developing and improving the podcast. We will transfer it to the Maritime Matters Podcast, provide more structure and make it look more professional.
    • Students from Gillian her class will also review the podcast episodes
  • Jillian is writing a big article about psychological safety for DCN magazine. Many other people from this working group helped her creating language. We are very excited to see more attention about this topic in (maritime) media.
  • Everyone is invited to share the Position Paper of our group. Please find the updated version on
  • A social media plan for COPE° group need to be coordinated and put into practice, we have a basic structure.

c) Data Collection, Output and Harmonization

Next meeting of this sub-group will be planned in March 2023, we will follow up with tasks and actions discussed in the previous meeting of this sub-group:

Tasks and actions:

  1. Create a safe data/governance structure.
  2. Everyone is invited to update the literature and resources list.
  3. Update the COPE° website with a resource database (Hannah and
  4. How do we create a data consortium, start dialogue, sharing ideas and views.
  5. Follow up about possible interviews amongst IMU members to ask whether there is a need for education with regards to psychological safety and DEIA relating matters. (Momoko and Eva)

COPE data resources
Use google docs to collect and maintain a list of bibliography, research, articles, guidances and other open access documents. In time we can categorize and divide types of resources. We can also look into the ‘Maritime Lab’ initiative.

Since the data is sensitive, with collecting and sharing data, we have to be aware of: ethical clearance, data protection, data governance, etc. We want data to inform our decisions.

Research gap
Do MET institutions actually teach the subjects around psychological safety, diversity, equity, inclusion and/or have experience with bullying, SASH in the maritime sector. Check interest in this kind of education. How large is the need, and support base? Momoko offered to use her IMU network, do interviews with member universities. We could also include GlobalMET (Jillian). Sailors Society.

Welmoed, Gillian and Koni shared there experience: interest is definitely there, also from students.

Gordon shared links from training that is currently done by MLA Plymouth. Gordon and Chris were involved in developing this training.,

d) Reporting mechanisms and accountability

Next meeting of this sub-group will be planned in March 2023, we will follow up with tasks and actions discussed in the previous meeting of this sub-group:

Tasks and actions:

  1. Focus on responsibility and accountability of flagstates, maritime authorities, companies, etc.
  2. Proposal to IMO for statistics. (Eva will follow up with the Saudi Arabia team, and Saleha)
  3. What are the different reporting mechanisms that are used right now?
  4. Ask Global Maritime Forum about Pinkwashing

Goals and topics:

  • How can we lift the cover that surrounds bullying and SASH in the maritime sector? (remove the sugarcoat, stop the gaslighting)
  • Have a structure that is transparent, have a reporting mechanism that is unified and clear. So people can be safe (as a basis).
  • Investigate if it is possible to gain IMO statistics on incidents for sexual harassment/bullying etc if recorded. Work on a proposal/request for IMO statistics. Potential to reach out to countries through IMO. Requires additional planning.
  • Need for guidance to shipping companies on policies. Use information that is collected by Universities (MET).
  • What are the policies of portstates, flagstates and companies. How long does it take for them to investigate?
  • ISWAN collects data from seafarers through their helplines (it is not the primary purpose and sometimes misses information). ISWAN is focusing and developing a program to collect data as a totality. Goal is to create actionable recommendations for the industry. Find ways to show and share what seafarers are facing.
  • Happiness Index: Ask if they can add questions about bullying and SASH?
  • Inform and push the need for ‘psychological safety’ at the commercial drivers, companies and other stakeholders.
  • Discussions about speak up culture, allyship, safeguarding. Including ISO standards, etc.

3) Any other business

We would like to draw attention to the following:

The Center for Ocean Policy and Economics, is supporting the candidacy of Ambassador Nancy Karigithu to become the next Secretary General of IMO.

We wish to congratulate Nancy, and invite all other members of this working group to support and raise awareness for her candidacy. She would be the first female Secretary General of the IMO and the first from Africa, a remarkable and necessary milestone.

  • Please find the press release attached to these meeting minutes.

We were invited to talk about our COPE working group and our achievements by:

  • Several podcast hosts and platforms
  • Conference of Tall Ships America

4) Next Meeting

Proposed future meeting days:
The next meetings of the COPE° Working group (main group):
Tuesday 14 Feburary 2023 at 11.00 GMT

Meeting on HTW9 preparations:
Monday 30 January at 20.00 GMT
(07.00 AEDT, 15.00 EST, 21.00 CET. People who have indicated they will be (virtually) joining HTW will be added to the meeting invite.)

The next meeting of the Sub-Group on Data Collection, Output and Harmonization
To be determined

The next meeting of the Sub-Group on Reporting mechanisms and accountability
To be determined

List of Members and Participants

The members and participates of the COPE° Working group on Psychological Safety and Sexual Assault and Harassment in the Maritime Sector are listed below.

*The information in the list is privacy sensitive, and thus will not be published here.*

Terms of Reference

The COPE° Working group on Psychological Safety and Sexual Assault and Harassment in the Maritime Sector is hosted by Center for Ocean Policy and Economics, a subset of The Northeast Maritime Institute – College of Maritime Science. COPE° facilitates committed maritime government, non-government, corporate, education, science and technology experts and partners to collaborate and create drivers for change. Members of the working group will be sharing information, ideas, learnings and pooling resources in order to work on:

  1. developing and delivering relevant actions and impactful solutions
  2. drivers for change, in order to tackle the wicked problems present in our world today
  3. solutions to build on an international UN framework to connect the industry to objectives.

The work the COPE° working group will be driven by ethical and humanitarian based values, taking into account:

  1. building on a psychologically safe workplace culture in the maritime sector
  2. the successful integration of vulnerable and marginalized groups, in support of diversity, equality, equity, inclusion and acceptance
  3. the issues relating to sexual assault, harassment and bullying in the maritime sector
  4. transparency and integrity
  5. supporting and honoring mariners globally