It is alarming when news of suicide attempts, violence and desperation becomes commonplace.
This is, unfortunately, the state of affairs today with seafarers who are tired, on the brink of mental breakdowns (some have already gone over) and very desperate – this desperation is manifesting through various incidents.
Priyanka Ann Saini covers some of these points in this article.
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has welcomed the commitment of 12 countries to facilitate crew changes and achieve key worker designation for seafarers, following a virtual ministerial summit hosted by the UK Government on 9 July.
This step represents significant progress to help resolve a growing crisis facing the maritime industry, and enable hundreds of thousands of stranded seafarers to go home or join ships.
If getting seafarers off these ships causes chaos in supply chains, if ports back up from Singapore to San Francisco, and if this causes ship insurance providers to pull their coverage and global trade to grind to a halt; then that is on the heads of politicians, not the world’s seafarers.
This is the message from Steve Cotton General Secretary of ITF reiterating that Seafarers have done their part in this COVID-19 pandemic, and plenty more. Enough is enough, it is time to go home now.
“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..??