Criminalization of Mariners
By Eric R. Dawicki
It’s time to start talking about the demonizing and criminalization of professional mariners.
Seafaring is one of the oldest professions in the world, dating back to ancient times. It is an industry that is vital to the global economy, with approximately 90% of the world’s trade transported by sea. Despite its importance, the profession of mariners and seafarers is often overlooked, and their working conditions are often challenging and hazardous. Moreover, the criminalization of professional mariners and seafarers is becoming an increasingly significant concern, with many facing unjustified prosecution and imprisonment.
The criminalization of seafarers can occur in different ways. Firstly, some seafarers can be accused of criminal offenses that are not directly related to their job but occurred while on board, such as drug smuggling or piracy. Secondly, some seafarers can face criminal charges for accidents or incidents that occur while performing their duties, such as collisions, groundings, or oil spills. Lastly, some seafarers can be criminalized due to non-compliance with regulations or maritime laws.
The ambiguity in criminalizing professional mariners and seafarers is a significant challenge. It is often unclear who is responsible for enforcing maritime law, and in many cases, criminalization is based on vague or outdated regulations. As a result, innocent seafarers are subjected to unjustified prosecution and imprisonment, which can have a significant impact on their lives and livelihoods. The criminalization of seafarers can also have negative consequences for the shipping industry as a whole, as it can discourage people from pursuing careers in the field.
The criminalization of seafarers can lead to various issues. Firstly, it can lead to a lack of trust between seafarers and the authorities, which can result in seafarers being hesitant to report incidents or accidents. This can have significant safety implications, as it can prevent authorities from identifying potential safety risks and taking appropriate action to mitigate them. Secondly, it can result in seafarers being treated unfairly and subjected to harsher penalties than they deserve. This can have a significant impact on their mental health and well-being, as well as their ability to find employment in the future. Lastly, the criminalization of seafarers can discourage people from pursuing careers in the industry, which can lead to a shortage of skilled labor and negatively affect the shipping industry’s performance.
The criminalization of professional mariners and seafarers is a complex and multi-faceted issue that requires attention from all stakeholders. Governments, industry bodies, and international organizations need to work together to create a clear framework for enforcing maritime law and ensure that seafarers are not subjected to unjustified prosecution and imprisonment. This can be achieved by updating and modernizing outdated regulations, providing seafarers with adequate training and support, and promoting a culture of safety and transparency in the shipping industry. By doing so, we can ensure that seafarers are treated fairly and that the shipping industry can continue to thrive in the future.