gCapitan Reports that A group of governments from twelve countries have come together to pledge urgent action to resolve the crew change crisis that has emerged as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.
In a joint statement presented Thursday during the virtual International Maritime Summit on Crew Changes, representatives from 12 countries expressed their deep concern about the current crisis and acknowledged that “the inability of ship operators worldwide to conduct ship’s crew changes is the single most pressing maritime operational challenge to the safe and efficient movement of global trade”.
At least 200,000 seafarers are estimated to stranded on ships and awaiting repatriation amid government-imposed travel restrictions. This inability for routine crew changes has led to a growing humanitarian crisis in shipping, in addition to concerns that seafarer fatigue and mental health issues may lead to serious maritime accidents.
The joint statement encourages all IMO states to designate seafarers as key workers and to implement the Protocols for Ensuring Safe Ship Crew Changes and Travel during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic, which were endorsed and circulated by IMO in May. The joint statement also recognizes the importance of considering the possibility of waivers or exemptions from visa or documentary requirements for seafarers, and to help increase access to commercial flights to and from the principal countries of origin of seafarers.
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim welcomed the call to facilitate crew changes and achieve key worker designation for seafarers.
“It is time to act for seafarers. Safe ship operations and crew wellbeing should not be compromised. The humanitarian crisis seafarers face has implications for all of us, for the world economy and for the safety of life at sea and the environment,” said Secretary-General Lim.
The joint statement was signed by representatives from the following countries: Denmark, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States of America.
Joint statement of the international maritime virtual summit on crew changes
Our collective efforts to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have demonstrated the critical need to prioritise the continued functioning of global supply chains to ensure the resilience of our national economies, and the importance of facilitating the safe and efficient operation of the maritime transportation system, which moves over 80% of global trade.
Critical to this endeavour is the ability of shipping companies to continue conducting crew changes throughout the world, notwithstanding the restrictions applied by many national authorities in response to the pandemic.
We, as the representatives of governments attending the International Maritime Summit on Crew Changes held on 9 July 2020 by the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, are deeply concerned by the global crisis.
Specifically, those created by ongoing obstacles affecting ship’s crew changes, the impact on the wellbeing of seafarers, and the impact that any failure by governments to resolve these issues will have on maritime transport, which must be permitted to continue to operate safely and efficiently throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Specifically, we acknowledge, as a matter of urgent concern:
We therefore recognise the importance of the pledges set out below and, as a matter of urgency, to:
We express our deepest appreciation to the world’s seafarers who have continued tirelessly to operate ships and move trade throughout this global crisis, and pledge to take forward these actions at this summit with the urgency and resolve needed by the situation.
Together, we can avert the global crisis that is unfolding at sea and play our part in helping the world defeat the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The governments of: