COPE° forms Working Group on Psychological Safety and Sexual Assault and Harassment in the Maritime Sector

10 March 2022


Fairhaven, MA – The Center for Ocean Policy and Economics (COPE°) has announced the formation of an informal Working Group to develop projects designed to provide solutions to build on an international framework which supports a psychologically safe workplace culture for mariners. It is universally recognized this will have a positive effect on operational safety and security on board ships. Psychological safety is essential to the successful integration of vulnerable and marginalized groups in support of diversity, equality, equity, and inclusion.

The working group will support the work outlined in document MSC105/16/4 of the IMO Maritime Safety Committee as proposed by Dominica, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, InterManager, IIMA, ICHCA International, IFSMA, and AMPP. The submission presents suggestions to amend IMO Model Course 1.21 – Personal Safety and Social Responsibility, which will be discussed by the Maritime Safety Committee in May 2022. Its intention is to develop and deliver relevant actions and impactful solutions, using the UN framework to do the work and connect the industry to objectives.

“It is critical that the IMO quickly develop and implement guidance for programs which address the psychological welfare and safety of today’s mariner, as well as establish guidelines on sexual assault and harassment in the maritime workplace” stated Eva Lianne Veldkamp, IMO Policy Coordinator for the Commonwealth of Dominica Maritime Registry who is leading this effort. “While a lot of talk has been created surrounding these issues, there have not been many policy changes or meaningful actions taken towards supporting Psychological Safety and SASH in maritime. This working group is a great opportunity to translate talk into action.”

The working group welcomes committed maritime government, non-government, corporate, education, science and technology experts and partners to collaborate on developing and delivering relevant actions and impactful solutions to join in their work. Initially, they will be reviewing and suggesting amendments to existing IMO model course 1.21 – PSSR based on the proposals identified in document MSC105/16/4, submitted to IMO Maritime Safety Committee. They will also be evaluating training options, as well as harmonizing best practices and guidance documents amongst United Nations bodies (IMO and ILO); NGO diversity manuals such as ICS, WISTA, ISWAN, BIMCO, INTERTANKO, INTERCARGO and the World Shipping Council as well as industry resources and studies.

It is anticipated that future work of the group will include:

  • Turning guidelines into education.
  • Amending and expanding existing training on safe working practices, effective communications on board ship and effective human relationships on board ships to include elements of psychological safety and dealing with trauma and trauma response.
  • Investigating a uniform mechanism for reporting incidents of assault, harassment, bullying, etc.
  • Focusing on the responsibility of companies, governments, and authorities.
  • Obtaining USCG approvals and meeting ISO standards.

Organizations and individuals who would like to join the working group are encouraged to reach out to Ms. Eva Lianne Veldkamp at


About Northeast Maritime Institute
Northeast Maritime Institute (also called NMI) is a privatecoeducational, maritime college offering an Associate in Applied Science in Nautical Science degree. Established in 1981, Northeast Maritime Institute is the only private maritime college in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  The college was originally established to provide an alternative to traditional education and training, with an emphasis on preparing mariners for employment. Graduates receive an Associate degree and are eligible to receive a United States Coast Guard Masters license upon graduation.  Northeast Maritime Institute has trained over 70,000 mariners since 1995.

About COPE
The Center for Ocean Policy and Economics (COPE) is hosted by the Northeast Maritime Institute – College of Maritime Science: Created to tackle some of the ocean’s “wicked problems.” A culmination of years of extensive research and conversations with leading experts in the maritime and ocean related fields, COPE is a facilitator for cogent maritime and ocean policy and economic development project initiatives linking academic, corporate, non-governmental, and governmental partners to create impactful solutions.  Additional information can be found at COPE.

Please contact Carleen Lyden Walker with questions.

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