Standing from left: Prashantha Karunanayake – UNK Sagacious, Himantha Devendra – Dev Marine Agencies, Jagath Perera – Win-Stone Shipping, Capt. Hemantha Madanayake – CMA Ships Lanka, Kalinga De Silva – Centrum Marine Consultancy. Seated from left: Treasurer Dharshana Senanayake, SeaMate Lanka, Chairman Capt. Ajith Peiris – Ceyline Group, and Secretary Capt. Rohan Codipilly – Mercantile Marine Management
The newly-formed association in the maritime sector, the Association of Seafarer Recruiting Agents (ASRA), commenced its activities with a meeting of the Executive Committee on 16 December 2020.
It is a timely initiative by Ceyline Group Executive Chairman and CINEC Campus Executive Chairman Capt. Ajith Peiris, since the present Minister of Ports and Shipping Rohitha Abeygunawardena will lead a Public/Private Sector Project (PPP) to embark on a task to increase the employment of Sri Lankan youth on ships.
The purpose of forming ASRA is to encourage its members to explore and increase the employment opportunities to the Sri Lankan youth on foreign ships and to be the voice of the seafarer manning industry and to represent matters related to the seafarer recruiting industry to the relevant authorities, associations and the Sri Lankan Government.
Though Sri Lanka is an island, the number of people engaged in the maritime sector specially the seafaring segment is very low compared to the population. Out of an approximately 21 million people in Sri Lanka, only 16,000 are active seafarers, which is less than 0.1% of the population. The present Government’s aim is to increase this number to 50,000 in the next five years with the help of the seafarer manning industry.
The foreign exchange Sri Lanka earns from the employment of seafarers on foreign ships is approximately $ 300 million per annum. With the Government’s planned project, the expected earnings will increase to $ 1 billion per annum. ASRA and its members will be contributing and helping the above project where it will not only benefit its members but also the Sri Lankan youth and our country Sri Lanka as a whole.
The association invites all the companies who are involved in seafarer recruitment to join ASRA and show the strength of the Sri Lankan seafaring industry to the rest of the maritime nations in the world, to make them aware of our potential to man their ships.
At the first meeting of ASRA, the following office bearers and Executive Committee members were elected, Chairman – Capt. Ajith Peiris – Ceyline Group; Secretary – Capt. Rohan Codipilly – Mercantile Marine Management Ltd.; Treasurer – Dharshana Senanayake – SeaMate Lanka Ltd.; Executive Committee Members: Jagath Perera - Win-Stone Shipping Ltd., Himantha Devendra – Dev Marine Agencies Ltd., Kalinga De Silva – Centrum Marine Consultancy Ltd., Prashantha Karunanayake – UNK Sagacious Ltd., Capt. Hemantha Madanayake – CMA Ships Lanka Ltd.
The companies the above represent contribute heavily to the employment of Sri Lankans onboard foreign ships and some are the main players in the industry with over 25 years of experience in recruiting seafarers.
The following sub-committees were appointed at the first Executive Committee meeting of ASRA: Liaising with authorities – Ministry of Ports and Shipping, DGMS, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, SLPA, CASA, etc., Membership drive, Seafarer Union and legal matters, Maritime Training, Publicity.
ASRA will initiate and support the Government to make the seafaring industry a leading industry in Sri Lanka. It will embark on an awareness program jointly with the Shipping Ministry to promote the Seafaring career to all Sri Lankans across the country. Its aim is to promote the seafaring profession to all the districts and possibly most of the villages in Sri Lanka thus with the high earning capacity of the people from these towns and villages, the standards of living in those areas will improve which will have a very positive effect on the economy of our country. The plan of successive governments in Sri Lanka to make our country a ‘Maritime Hub’ can be made a reality with a few projects of this nature.
The Chairman and the Executive Committee of ASRA will aim to promote Sri Lanka to be a country providing an internationally qualified, skilled and disciplined seafarer workforce to the world and to change the image we have as a country providing unskilled labour. ASRA will join hands with the Shipping Ministry to introduce and promote our seafarers to the maritime nations/major ship owning countries in the world who will be the potential employers for our Sri Lankan seafarers.
Countries such as Norway, Japan, Korea, Germany, Greece, etc. are to be approached for potential employment opportunities. The Director General of Merchant Shipping (DGMS) Office will play a major role in this exercise. As the licensing and certificate issuing authority for Sri Lankan Seafarers, their support is very important to secure jobs on board ships. ASRA has already started a dialogue with DGMS office and held its first meeting recently.
A close collaboration with the Ceylon Association of Shipping Agents (CASA) is also envisaged as tare activities of seafarers which are carried out by the shipping agents who are members of CASA. ASRA is confident that all the Sri Lankan manning companies will rally around to make seafarer recruiting industry an important and a strong industry in Sri Lanka supporting our youth in employment and our country in generating the much needed foreign exchange.