IMO Member States meeting during a digital
session of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) have called on all Governments
to take urgent action to resolve the humanitarian and safety crisis faced by
the international shipping community as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
adopted a resolution on Recommended action to facilitate ship crew change,
access to medical care and seafarer travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, which
urges specific action to address the issue, including designating seafarers as
key workers with access to the necessary safe travel arrangements.
Speaking at the
close of the session on 21 September, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said,
“This resolution should help ensure integrity of employment and human rights of
seafarers and, consequentially, minimize disruptions to global trade, supply
chains, efficient operation of maritime transport and ensure the continued
movement of food and livestock, products and essential goods by sea.”
Seafarers cannot remain at sea indefinitely
remain at sea indefinitely, in addition to the humanitarian crisis that has
been caused by keeping them effectively trapped on their vessels, the safety
issues that arise from overly fatigued and mentally exhausted seafarers to
continue operating vessels are a matter of great concern. If the crew change
crisis is not resolved, ships will no longer be able to operate safely,” Lim
Lim called on Governments to raise seafarer issue and crew change at
75 session of UN; ,
it is now time to row together
Lim also called on
all Governments to consider raising the issue of seafarers and the crew change
crisis during the high-level week of the 75th session of the United Nations
General Assembly, beginning on 22 September 2020.
“We must resolve
this global crew change crisis as soon as possible, it is now time to row
together, it is time for action,” Lim said.
More than 300,000 seafarers are currently stranded
More than 300,000
seafarers are currently stranded on board ships, with some now having been
working for more than 17 months at sea, without a break.
A further 300,000
workers are unable to join ships and potentially face unemployment due to
Government-imposed travel restrictions and quarantine measures in different
parts of the world. The crisis threatens the well-being of seafarers and puts
navigational safety in peril.
Business leaders are
warning that the seafarer crisis could soon interrupt normal flows of
international trade, since more than 80% of goods including food, fuel, medical
supplies are transported by sea.