The case of several Montenegrin seafarers connected to drug smuggling has caught public attention and generated a wave of information that ships with our seafarers in the crew will not be allowed to enter American ports, that they will be dismissed etc.
Dr Mimo Drašković, manager of the study program – Management in Seafaring in the Faculty of Maritime Studies in Kotor, points out that it would be very important if representatives of Ministry if Transport and Maritime Affairs provided Montenegrin public with relevant information regarding this matter.
“The phenomenon of drug smuggling isn’t new and unknown. Many ships around the world are connected with criminal activities, but that doesn’t mean that any country perpetrators belong to should be held responsible. What concerns me particularly is the fact that the situation which is in the domain of organized crime is trying to be transferred to the field of daily political events.
What are only speculations and what is the real danger for our seafarers?
Dr Drašković: Some of the greatest ship companies in the world might start dismissing our seafarers. But, for now, Montenegrin seafarers shouldn’t be faced with problems in getting American visa.
Seafarers Union complained about country’s inappropriate reaction. What’s your opinion?
Dr Drašković: Is I already said, the key problem is potential dismissal of Montenegrin seafarers on the ships of MSC company. It is one of the greatest shipping companies in the world, which is at the same time, the biggest world employer with around 2.250 Montenegrin seafarers in the crew.
Considering the salaries our citizens have, it is clear that the level of danger is considerable. It’s not problem for seafarers and their families but also for the country. Total export in Montenegro reached around €400 million in 2018. Inflow from seafarers was estimated to be €250-300 million per year. Therefore, state institutions must act in order to protect Montenegrin seafarers.
What is your view on the seafarers’ position and their profession in Montenegro?
Dr Drašković: Considering long Montenegrin seafaring tradition and economic benefits from seafarers, I honestly think that competent authorities should devote more attention to this economic branch.
What are the problems seafarers are faced with?
Dr Drašković: Some of the problems include: insufficient expert capacities in the Ministry of Transport, unsatisfactory level of coordination with other ministries and institutions, delays in the adoption of legislation and regulations related to respect for international standards in seafaring activity, disobeying legislation referring to education and professional training process…
What’s the solution?
Dr Drašković: I think country should form a specialized authority, consisting of respectable representatives of all relevant subjects in order to maintain contact with the representatives of the greatest shipping companies. In addition, country should engage more in security check control and in monitoring seafarers training procedures.
What are the untapped resources in this field?
Dr Drašković: It’s the question of Montenegrin potentials when it comes to ship registration. However, that project requires comprehensive research, clear strategy and immaculately prepared legislation.
Additionally, highway will have multiple positive effects on tourism economy and trade.
Considering the fact that higher study programs must be harmonized with international standards defined by International Maritime Organization and conventions ratified by Montenegro, to what extent can Faculty of Maritime Studies help solve this problem our seafarers are facing?
Dr Drašković: This year Faculty in Kotor is celebrating 60 years of work. Its importance is reflected in the quality of newly-accredited academic study programs which have been harmonized with high-education national requirements and designed in accordance with most contemporary achievements in scientific theory and practice. Faculty of Maritime Studies could naturally be the carrier of the education process and one of the creators of maritime policy.
Has the faculty in Kotor informed institutions about the problems?
Dr Drašković: Management of the Faculty of Maritime Studies has been dealing with problems identified in this field for many years. And, yes, it has addressed competent authorities several times but unsuccessfully. However, I believe that we will join forces in order to overcome existing problems and raise the quality level of maritime economy in Montenegro.
Do you have any feedback about the people you educate?
Dr Drašković: Faculty of Maritime Studies has reached numerous agreements on business and technical cooperation with legal entities, so that our students can acquire all the necessary skills and knowledge. With the aim of implementing strategy of the internationalization of the university and faculty, students are offered mobility possibility, i.e. the possibility of staying in similar faculties in other countries for one or more semesters. In this context, our faculty has more than 10 signed agreements. Knowledge of our students is evaluated by shipping companies and agencies through selection interviews.
What is their experience? And what about the experience of employers?
Dr Drašković: Research based on the Faculty alumni base indicates that the majority of our students come aboard the ship for the first time within 3-6 months from the day they finish their studies. The Faculty takes care of the students even after they leave. We want to know if the make progress and what their positions are. Our students were mostly satisfied with the job and the feedback was encouraging.