Almost 150,000 seafarers are stuck on ships due to the coronavirus pandemic, and travel restrictions and blockades around the world still prevent them from completing their shift or contract. A special document was developed by the international maritime authorities to address this problem.
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has published a protocol which, in addition to, inter alia, the rules and steps to be followed in the case of transport to and from a seafarer’s place of residence from one country to a seaport in another, insists that professional seafarers and seafarers should be identified and treated as key personnel to ensure safe substitution on board and voyage during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Protocol contains detailed health and safety recommendations for governments, customs, border controls, ports and the civil aviation sector to finally unblock this process.
Governments are urged to exempt seafarers and staff from travel restrictions and to allow seafarers to disembark from ships in port and transit through their territory (i.e. to an airport) for re-crewing and repatriation.
Shipping is essential for maintaining global supply chains. The duration of service on ships cannot be extended indefinitely – informs IMO.
Recommendations on how to address this problem arise at a time of growing concern that prolonged periods at sea affect their health. According to the latest Seafarers Happiness Index report published by Mission to Seafarers, limited shore leave, increasing workloads and extended hours at sea are affecting the health and well-being of seafarers.
IMO (Fot.: Wikipedia)