The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has approved a draft resolution consolidating issues related to crew swapping, access to medical care, recognition of seafarers as key workers and prioritising them for vaccination against Covid-19, nearly two years after the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The draft was approved at the 104th session of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), held between 4 and 8 October this year. It is expected to be adopted at the 32nd session of the IMO Assembly, between 6 and 15 December this year.
The draft resolution calls on member states to, among other things:
- designate seafarers as “key workers” to facilitate their disembarkation and safe passage across borders, and recognise them with adequate documentation for this purpose;
- give priority to the vaccination of seafarers, where possible, in national vaccination programmes against COVID-19
- ensure that seafarers have immediate access to medical care and facilitate the evacuation of seafarers in need of urgent medical attention when the required medical care cannot be provided either on board or in the port of call.
In December last year, the United Nations adopted a resolution urging its members to designate seafarers and other maritime industry personnel as key workers. The document encouraged governments and relevant stakeholders to implement protocols recognised by the IMO to ensure the safe exchange of ship crews and travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In mid-December, forty-five IMO member states and one associate member, Hong Kong, designated seafarers as key personnel, a key step in addressing the ongoing crew change crisis.