A Milestone to Enhance Fishing Vessel Personnel Protection Abroad: Indonesia and Spain Sign Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA)

The Indonesian and Spanish governments have agreed to sign the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) for the Certification of Fishing Vessel Personnel in February 2024 in Madrid. The MRA underscores the commitment of the Indonesian government, represented by the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF), the Ministry of Transportation, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to improve protection guarantees for Indonesian Fishing Vessel Personnel (FVP) working in Spanish waters. This effort has received appreciation from the Spanish Fisheries Confederation (CEPESCA).

Improving Standards of Protection for Indonesian Fishery Workers in Spain

The recently signed MRA includes discussions on certification standards applied by Indonesia, mainly based on the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel (STCWF) 1995. The two-year negotiation process since 2022 aims to ensure that Indonesian FVPs working in Spain have internationally recognized and appropriate certifications.

The MRA also mentions an agreement on fast electronic verification to check the authenticity of certifications. In this regard, the Indonesian government has prepared two website links for validating the authenticity of certificates issued by Indonesia, allowing the Spanish government to verify all documents proposed by Indonesian ABK in Spain directly. The links are https://akapi.kkp.go.id/auth/login and https://pelaut.dephub.go.id.

In addition to the agreement on certification standards, the MRA also stipulates an agreement to establish obligations for both parties to conduct periodic facility inspections at training centres by STCW-F 1995. In this case, the Indonesian government has the authority to oversee and inspect facilities on Spanish vessels where FVPs work to ensure compliance with safety and security standards. The Indonesian government’s firmness in following up on this agreement is essential to protect Indonesian migrant FVPs. It should be appreciated and closely monitored for future implementation, especially in disputes between the employer and FVPs.

Challenges and Future Steps

Although the MRA is considered a positive step to protect Indonesian FVP in Spain, there are some challenges that the Indonesian government needs to address. Firstly, Indonesia needs to enhance the competency standards of domestic graduates, primarily through fisheries high schools and polytechnics, in line with STCWF 1995. This effort aims to ensure that human resources in fisheries and marine affairs in Indonesia can compete and meet the requirements of Spain and other countries.

Secondly, intensive coordination and socialization of this agreement need to be carried out with the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ensure a smooth administrative process and direct socialization to Indonesian ABK in Spain to meet the required standards as per the MRA agreement. These efforts affirm the Indonesian government’s implementation commitment to enhancing the protection and welfare of migrant workers abroad.

Thirdly, there is a need to develop similar MRAs with other destination countries where most Indonesian FVPs are placed, such as South Korea, Japan, Thailand, and Taiwan. The MRA agreement with Spain can serve as a reference for application through cooperation in other destination countries. This effort will ensure comprehensive protection standards for all Indonesian migrant FVP. Additionally, the Indonesian FVP can be recognized for its standards and capabilities and be internationally applicable.

The MRA between Indonesia and Spain is a crucial initial step in enhancing the protection of Indonesian FVP worldwide. With the increased certification and competency standards, FVP can work in more precise conditions, receive protection from both governments, and experience economic well-being. The Indonesian government is also expected to continue promoting similar cooperation efforts with other countries to protect the rights and welfare of FVP wherever Indonesian FVP works globally.

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