The Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) said it has won back $10.4m in outstanding wages for seafarers on ships sailing under its flag in the last two-and-a-half years.

The PMA said the money had been collected between July 2019 and December 2021.

Most of the recovered money — around $7.6m — was collected in 2021, indicating that this year has been an exceptionally difficult one for seafarers to secure timely payment of salaries.

The 2021 figure represents a 279% increase on 2020, when just around $2m was recovered by the AMP.

There has also been a marked increase in abandonment cases since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020.

In 2021, the AMP said it played a part in repatriating 761 abandoned seafarers from its ships, compared to 539 in 2020, and just 86 in 2019 — the year before the pandemic broke out.

The AMP said it had recovered wages, and repatriated crew, with the help of protection and indemnity insurers, shipowners and operators.

It said the figures indicate the AMP is playing its part in enforcing the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006, which is the main seafarer welfare convention, and other national welfare regulations. It said it had achieved "excellent results".

The AMP said: "This hard endeavour, evidences once more, our commitment to compliance with national and international conventions, and the national regulations on seafarers labour onboard ships of Panamanian flag."