Nautilus International has called for a co-ordinated approach to people smuggling by Port Authorities following the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants in a refrigerated lorry in Essex.
Lorry driver Maurice Robinson, 25, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration between 1 May 2018 and 24 October 2019.
The seafarers' Union said that ports should work more closely to identify high-risk activity pre and post embarkation, including a co-ordinated approach by Port Authorities to mandatory stowaway checks on ferries that transport lorries across European borders.
'Enhanced vigilance is needed by Port Authorities to identify earlier cases of people smuggling and hopefully prevent this needless loss of life,' Nautilus International general secretary Mark Dickinson said.
Under International Maritime Organization (IMO) guidelines, a stowaway check list must be followed by the crew before port departure. It also requires an International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS) gangway watch to be carried out.
The ISPS code is an interntional maritime regulation for the safety and security of ships, ports, cargo and crew.
Mandatory stowaway searches and people smuggling can have a huge impact on Seafarer's working conditions, impacting on Hours of Rest, and workload.
Should a stowaway be detected onboard it is the Master's responsibility to inform the Flag State, the next port of call, and Port Authority. The Master must also establish the identity and nationality of the stowaway and take appropriate actions to ensure the general health, welfare and safety of the stowaway until deportation.
Nautilus members who suspect people smuggling or discover stowaways onboard are urged to contact the Union to ensure their rights and responsibilities are maintained.