The Filipino Association for Mariners’ Employment, Inc. (FAME) held its 2nd FAME General Membership Meeting for this year last 10 June 2010 at the Ballroom II, 6th Floor of Hyatt Hotel & Casino Manila.

Seventy-seven (77) out of one hundred nineteen (119) members with a total of one hundred seventeen (117) members and guests attended the occasion.

The general membership enthusiastically awaited the updates given by the Non-immigrant Visa Unit of the US Embassy represented by Vice Consul Jason Ray Hutchison. The Vice Consul Hutchison primarily updated the Association on the new DS-160 Online Visa Application Form. The DS-160 Online Visa Application Form replaces the three basic paper application forms that have been in use for several years namely DS-156 NIV Application, DS-157 Supplemental NIV Application and DS-158 Contact Information and Work History.

As expected the introduction of the new online visa application form arisen questions and clarifications from the member-companies which were diligently answered by Vice Consul Hutchison and his staff. Aside from the issues and concerns raised regarding the new online application form, some issues and concerns were also tackled such as denial of visas due to lack of sea service, restrictions of C1D and D visas and the concerns in notifying the seafarer and manning agency if the seafarer passed or was declined of his visa application.

As a whole, the discussion was very significant and informative not only to the member-companies but also for the US Embassy Manila representatives as they were given also the chance to introduce the new form and clarified concerns of the manning agencies.

Moreover, FAME welcomed and awarded certificates to the new member-companies of the Association namely Manila Ocean Crew Management Inc., OSM Shipping Phils., Inc. and SSM Maritime Services, Inc.

The agenda of the meeting was brief but all items were matters of serious significance to the attention of the industry including the updates on the amendments to R.A. 10022 or Amended Migrant Workers’ Act and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), POEA SEC Review, the Continuing Dialogue of the Association with PRC re: Requirements for Licensure Examinations and other PRC issues, update on the government meetings concerning the position of the Philippines to STCW Amendments and the dialogue with Panama Embassy on Panama issues and concerns.

Likewise, the members were updated on the IMO STCW Diplomatic Conference on 21- 26 June 2010 and the 2010 Year of the Seafarer Forum, Manila on the 26th of June 2010 and the Association’s involvement and participation to said events by Ms. Josephine J. Francisco, Chairman of FAME Government Committee.

Lastly, FAME President, Mr. Ericson M. Marquez also updated the members on the initiative of the Joint Manning Group (JMG) to come up with consolidated industry wishlist to be forwarded to the Aquino Administration which is aimed to make the new Administration aware of the concerns of the Maritime Industry and be considered to be given corrective actions and legislative measures to address the industry issues and concerns with the different maritime related government agencies.