THE Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) and the Integrated Seafarers of the Philippines (ISP) are calling on Filipino seafarers to become entrepreneurs so they can have another source of income to fall back on amid an alarming 25 percent drop in the deployment of mariners.
ISP president Capt. Gaudencio Morales pointed this out at the sidelines of the recent launch of the DoLE-National Reintegration Center for Overseas Filipino Workers (NRCO)-ISP Business Plan Competition (Harnessing Seafarer’s Capacities for Business Enterprises Development), which was established to encourage seafarers to go into business.
The downtrend in deployment, according to Morales, was confirmed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
“There is a decline in our deployment of seafarers because remittances from the shippers have declined,” he said, adding that “shipping experts have predicted that deployment will continue to drop until 2018.”
The BSP said the remittances from sea-based workers declined by 8.23 percent even as overall remittances from overseas Filipinos, both land and sea-based, rose to $2.4 billion or P120.8 billion early this year.
Data from the POEA showed that the deployment of Filipino seafarers started to decline in 2016, from 406,531 in 2015 to 304,329 or a decrease of 25 percent.
Morales cited three main factors for the decline: slump in the price of oil in the world market, slowdown of China’s industrialization and downturn in the global shipping market brought about by the poor economy of many countries.
“Because of low oil prices, off-shore oil rig projects also slowed down, which negated the need for supply ships,” he explained.
Morales said the slowdown in China’s industrialization resulted in the scrapping of the country’s old ships.
“The global shipping market downturn reduced the exchange of goods among countries, which means that there is no need for ships. Shipping firms don’t buy new ships and either sell or scrap their old ships, so there is no need for crew,” he added.
Morales said the perennial problem of the oversupply of Filipino seamen also contributed in part to the problem, adding that the ranks of seafarers have also swelled with 20,000 to 25,000 maritime graduates every year.
“Everyone is aware of this oversupply but it remains a problem because we can’t stop maritime schools from accepting students,” he said.
According to Morales, parents who want their children to become seafarers should be aware that just like the nursing profession, there is an oversupply of seafarers.