ITF: SRI's Cabotage Report a Game-Changer (9/25)


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The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) issued the following news release on September 25.


New report a circuit breaker providing policymakers a fact-based analysis of global cabotage laws


The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) welcomes the release of the new Seafarers’
Rights International report – Cabotage Laws of the World – a ground-breaking analysis of maritime
cabotage laws around the world.

The study, commissioned by the ITF, provides the first independent analysis of maritime cabotage
laws since 1992. Based on legislation and advice received from 140 countries, the SRI report reveals
that 91 countries representing 80 percent of the world’s coastal UN Maritime States have cabotage laws restricting foreign maritime activity in their domestic coastal trades.

The ITF and its affiliates have been campaigning globally to underline the importance of national
cabotage laws and the value of having domestic jobs in national waters, as well as domestic
employment conditions for foreign seafarers in cases where national seafarers are not available.

ITF Seafarers’ Section Chair, David Heindel said today: “The lack of accurate facts on cabotage laws
around the world has been an impediment for policymakers considering implementing cabotage
laws. This report represents a circuit breaker, providing policymakers with the relevant facts for
proper decision-making.”

“The SRI report debunks the myth that cabotage is an exception, not the rule. Laws governing
maritime activity are widespread, currently existing in 91 countries covering 80% of the world’s
coastlines of UN Maritime States.”

“We know there are a number of countries considering introducing, strengthening or diminishing
cabotage regulation. This report will assure those governments that it makes sense to enforce
national cabotage laws.”

According to the report, cabotage laws are commonplace and geared towards protecting local
shipping industries, ensuring the retention of skilled maritime workers and preservation of maritime
knowledge and technology, promoting safety and bolstering national security.

James Given, Chair of the ITF Cabotage Task Force said today: “The benefits of cabotage laws are self-evident. For countries that depend on the sea for their trade, cabotage safeguards their own
strategic interests as maritime nations, bringing added economic value whilst also protecting
national security and the environment,”

“Cabotage provides jobs for a country’s seafarers and also safeguards foreign seafarers against
exploitation posed by the liberalisation in the global shipping industry, preventing a race to the

“Without strong cabotage rules, local workers often have to compete with cheap, exploited foreign
labour on Flag of Convenience vessels, the owners of which usually pay sub-standard wages and flout safety laws.”

The ITF remains committed to be the leading voice in the worldwide effort to secure strong,
enforceable cabotage laws, that ensure workers have a voice, decent work, and that protect the
environment and nations’ economic and national security.

Cabotage Laws of the World key findings:

• Cabotage is “widespread”, with cabotage laws existing in 91 countries representing 80% of the
world’s coastlines of UN Maritime States.

• Cabotage exists across all political, economic and legal systems.

• Cabotage policy objectives are diverse, designed to: maintain national security, promote fair
competition, develop human capacity, create jobs, promote the shipping industry, promote
safety and security of ships in port, enhance marine environmental protection and/or preserve
maritime knowledge and technology.

• Cabotage laws are diverse with a range of approaches taken by different countries regarding
virtually every aspect of cabotage, with great diversity in the interpretation, administration and
enforcement of cabotage.

• Cabotage laws have endured for centuries, but continue to evolve.

• Cabotage is not subject to a single definition accepted as binding on all states under
international law. Regional and national definitions of cabotage vary widely.

A full copy of the report is available here:


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