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Maritime Charity Column: seafarers' welfare provision an ongoing challenge

8 April 2024

Helene Perfors, a chaplain at the Port of Rotterdam from the Protestant Church of the Netherlands – which is affiliated with the Dutch Seafarers' Federation (NZC) – describes the organisation's recent welfare work in collaboration with the Union


Every year, approximately 45,000 ships call at Dutch seaports with about one million seafarers onboard. The Dutch Seafarers' Federation (NZC) – an umbrella organization which provides maritime welfare services – picks up on seafarers' issues.

When it comes to seafarers' welfare some challenges remain, despite legal protections such as the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC).

So, NZC requested an independent study into the facilities and needs of the Dutch seafarers' centres from thought leadership research group Erasmus UPT (Erasmus University's Centre for Urban, Port and Transport Economics) in Rotterdam. The 2023 report was a wake-up call for many maritime stakeholders. In practice, the financing of seafarers' facilities falls through the cracks, because the MLC does not state who should be responsible. It translates into welfare facilities that are largely maintained by volunteers. Although this is wonderful work, it is insufficient for the continued wellbeing of both seafarers and volunteers.

Looking back over the last few months, some topics stand out at NZC:

  • consultations are ongoing with the Dutch government and other parties involved (Nautilus, KVNR, Maritime Funds) to guarantee financially the welfare work for seafarers in the future – Not only as emergency support, but structurally
  • obligations to seafarers on shore leave still often seem to be forgotten or omitted, and we continue to bring the issue to the attention of the PFSOs and port authorities
  • together with SPWO (Pastoral Care Dredging and Marine Construction), 'NZC-connected' chaplains have also been helping support and prepare maritime cadets for social, physical, and mental issues they may face

NZC always tries to connect with other parties who have the same goal – the wellbeing of seafarers.

The Maritime Charity Column is a regular feature in the Nautilus Telegraph. Submissions are invited from a range of organisations by the Telegraph editor.


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