The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the European Community Shipowners Association (ESCA) have urged national governments to find a solution to the continuing crew changeover crisis.
In a statement, the IMO called upon politicians around the world to grant seafarers ‘key worker’ status and allow them to disembark from vessels at port and return to their families.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to travel restrictions and strict border controls as countries have sought to stop the virus spreading. Consequently, many seafarers have had to remain on their vessels for far longer than their contracts legally allow, in some cases they have stayed at sea for over 18 months.
In a webinar on 2020 Day of the Seafarer, IMO General-Secretary Kitack Lim said: “Seafarers’ work is unique and essential. Seafarers are on the front line in this global fight.
“They deserve our thanks. But they also need – and deserve – quick and decisive humanitarian action from governments everywhere, not just during this pandemic, but at all times.”
Throughout the pandemic the world has depended on seafarers and other supply chain workers to ensure safe delivery of essential goods, such as food and medical supplies.
“Seafarers are the 2 million workers on whom the global trade depends, working on ships that carry more than 80% of global trade by volume,” said Martin Dorsman, the ECSA’s Secretary General.
“They’ve fulfilled their part of their contract. Now, governments need to ensure that they are, in turn, respected.”
In June 2020, A.P. Moeller-Maersk (Maersk) joined previous calls from the IMO for governments to engage in “constructive dialogue” to solve the crisis.