“The restrictions for crew change due to COVID-19 is unsustainable for the safety and wellbeing of over 150,000 seafarers who will require international flights to be changed over to and from the ships they work on from the middle of June 2020. These seafarers are having to extend their service onboard ships after many months at sea, unable to be replaced or repatriated after long tours of duty.”
This is the message from The Secretary-General of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) who issued a joint statement to enlist the support of Governments for the facilitation of crew changes in ports and airports in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have read many articles, extolling the virtues of Seafarers who are considered the backbone of the shipping industry and how they are important to the industry etc etc.
However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, these Seafarers are facing significant challenges with extended service on board, unable to go ashore for a bit of fresh air after many months at sea, unable to be relieved of their duties and go home to be with their loved ones etc.
This is despite international maritime compliance regulations which require Seafarers to be changed on a regular basis from ships they work in to ensure safety, crew health, welfare, and the prevention of fatigue.
There have been calls from many quarters for appropriate action to be taken to address these issues faced by Seafarers.
Ships and ports need to remain fully operational in order to maintain complete functionality of supply chains..
Governments and their relevant national authorities should therefore engage with appropriate stakeholders within their national shipping and ports sectors to discuss arrangements for the continued facilitation of international maritime trade, including port hinterland connections..
This is one of the recommendations of the IMO alongwith recommendations that seafarers be designated as “key workers providing essential services” during the COVID-19 pandemic allowing them exemptions from national travel or movement restrictions in order to facilitate their joining or leaving ships..
Is your country already following or about to follow this especially when you are under lockdown with COVID-19..?? Let’s take a quick survey shall we..??