THE International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) have sent a joint letter to various United Nations agencies to demand that seafarers be exempt from national travel bans.
"In particular, this means keeping the
world's ports open for calls by visiting commercial ships, and
facilitating crew changes and the movement of ships' crews with as few
obstacles as possible," the two organisations said.
A total of 100,000 seafarers have to change over each month to comply with rules and regulations, reported UK's Lloyd's List.
The letter was sent to the heads of the UN's International Maritime
Organisation (IMO), the International Labor Organisation, the UN
Conference on Trade and Development and the World Health Organisation.
This comes as the head of IMO has called for pragmatism in dealing with crew changeovers.
Some member countries of the European Union are introducing national
travel bans, while the EU will implement a 30-day ban for travel to the
EU for non-EU nationals. Elsewhere, other regions have set their own
restrictions, including new restrictions on ships and crews entering
At the same time several large shipping companies, including Maersk, have suspended crew changes because of the coronavirus.
"We therefore wish to emphasise the vital need for the world's
professional merchant seafarers to be granted appropriate exemptions
from any national travel restrictions, when joining or leaving their
ships, to keep the world's maritime supply chains functioning," the ICS
and ITF stated.
Regardless of their nationality, seafarers should be treated as any
other international "key workers," such as airline crew and medical
personnel, they said.
"As such, they should be afforded special consideration and,
notwithstanding the need to comply with emergency health protocols,
treated with pragmatism and understanding when seeking to travel to and
from their ships," ITF and ICS said.
Meanwhile, IMO secretary general Kitack Lim released a video statement
on the situation that he will be initiating meetings with leaders from
shipping, ports and other sectors to help find solutions.
"Again, I urge a practical and pragmatic approach, in these unusual
times, to issues like crew changeovers, resupply, repairs, survey and
certification and licensing of seafarers," said Mr Lim.