The UK Chamber of Shipping has written a letter to the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson demanding urgent action is taken to facilitate crew changes. The letter was sent on Sunday evening.
The Chamber, which is the voice of the UK Shipping industry, wants the UK government to convene an urgent virtual summit to get states to allow crew changes to take place.
The full letter reads:
Dear Prime Minister,
Over the last few months we have seen the contribution so many have made, and the sacrifices, to keep Britain open and functioning. An often forgotten about group of key workers are the men and women of the shipping industry who move 95% of the UK’s goods.
Ships and their crew have continued to keep supplies coming into the country during the pandemic, ensuring we have enough food, medicines and essential goods.
But this has come at a cost. Since the start of the pandemic we have seen many countries shut down their borders. In normal times we would expect to see around 100,000 seafarers be replaced every month, but widespread travel restrictions are preventing these changes from taking place.
The reality is many seafarers have been on board a ship for months, have had no contact with coronavirus, and they have now come to the end of their duty and cannot get home. This situation is unacceptable. The mental toll this is taking on many is too much and this critical issue is increasingly becoming a humanitarian crisis.
It is estimated there are more than 1.2m seafarers at sea at any one time and currently 400,000 seafarers due to change over, including up to 2,000 from the UK.
In the early stages of the lockdown, the UK government set an excellent example to the rest of the world by pledging to keep ports open for crew changes and shore leave. We need to see other countries reciprocate and we need this to happen now.
The UK has an opportunity to lead the world on crew changes and we want the UK government to host a virtual global summit to encourage other countries to allow these crew changes to take place.
Seafarers do not represent a risk; their job keeps them in quarantine and socially distant. They are key workers and need to be treated as such as without them our global economy will grind to a halt.
Global trade affects us all. We will need trade to function now more than ever as we emerge from this crisis.
The solutions to this crisis do not need money; they do not need complicated negotiations, this is simple. The time for leadership is now and we hope the UK government will act and act now by convening a global summit on this most important of issues.
This initiative has the overwhelming support of UK Chamber of Shipping members which represent over 100,000 seafarers and over a thousand ships worldwide.
Source: UK Chamber of Shipping