Class seafarers as key workers, urges IMO

The Covid-19 pandemic has stranded more than 200,000 seafarers Photo: IMOThe Covid-19 pandemic has stranded more than 200,000 seafarers Photo: IMO

The IMO Secretary-General has welcomed the commitment of 12 countries to facilitate crew changes and achieve key worker designation for seafarers, following a virtual ministerial summit hosted by the UK government on 9 July.

In a joint statement, representatives from 12 countries expressed their deep concern about the current crisis and acknowledged that ‘the inability of ship operators worldwide to conduct ship’s crew changes is the single most pressing maritime operational challenge to the safe and efficient movement of global trade’.

It is estimated that at least 200,000 seafarers worldwide are stranded on ships and require immediate repatriation, and a similar number urgently need to join ships to replace them. IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim applauded the pledge to encourage all IMO states to designate seafarers as key workers and to implement the Protocols for Ensuring Safe Ship Crew Changes and Travel during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic, which were endorsed and circulated by IMO in May.

“It is time to act for seafarers,” said Mr Lim. “Safe ship operations and crew wellbeing should not be compromised. The humanitarian crisis seafarers face has implications for all of us, for the world economy and for the safety of life at sea and the environment.”

The joint statement was signed by representatives from Denmark, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, UK and USA.

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