Legal issues on wage protection of seafarers held hostage by pirates


  • Li Zhang School of Law, Dalian Maritime University, Dalian Shi, Liaoning Sheng, China
  • Lanzhong Guo School of Law, Dalian Maritime University, Dalian Shi, Liaoning Sheng, China
  • Xiaoxing Zhang School of Law, Dalian Maritime University, Dalian Shi, Liaoning Sheng, China
  • Pengfei Zhang School of Law, Dalian Maritime University, Dalian Shi, Liaoning Sheng, China



Seafarers, Wages, Maritime Labor Convention 2006, Amendments 2018, Piracy


The issue of piracy against merchant vessels still poses a significant threat to world shipping, and people onboard continue to be targeted and held hostage by pirates for ransom. Seafarers expect and deserve to continue receiving wages if held by pirates. However, this entitlement remains unclear in the current legal framework and maritime industry practice. Traditionally, it was argued that seafarers held hostage by pirates did not have a right to continued payment of their wages. The world maritime community has made significant effort to reform the law and address the need to protect the wages of seafarers. Amendments made in 2018 to the Maritime Labor Convention 2006 (MLC 2006) aimed to ensure that, while seafarers are held captive as a result of piracy or armed robbery, seafarer employment agreements (SEAs) remain in force, and they must continue to be paid. While it is a significant move forward, there are no provisions for compulsory financial guarantees on captive seafarers’ wages in the amendments. Through policy analysis on captive seafarers’ wages, it is argued that the amendments of 2018 are not adequate guarantees of the wages of seafarers held hostage by pirates, and that true reforms are still far away.


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How to Cite

Zhang, L., Guo, L. ., Zhang , X. ., & Zhang, P. (2021). Legal issues on wage protection of seafarers held hostage by pirates. Maritime Technology and Research, 3(3), 268–279.