IMO declares protocols for seafarer exchanges and travels
The IMO has announced its approval of a series of guidelines designed to tackle how ships change crews and how at the end of their encounters the seafarers travel home.
According to the IMO this has emerged as two of the major problems facing the shipping industry as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Described as having been drawn up by a wide cross-section of global industry organizations representing different sectors of the maritime transport industry, the protocols set out basic measures and procedures aimed at ensuring that ship crew changes during the COVID-19 pandemic can take place safely.
The broad protocols include guidelines for maritime authorities and other related national authorities such as health, customs, immigration, seaport and civil aviation. These tackle shipping companies and representatives' positions, including crew agencies and seafarers, and apply to seaports, airports and airlines involved in ship crew shift travel operations.
Shipping and mariners are essential to global supply chains. Approximately 150,000 seafarers need to be transferred each month, to and from the ships they run, to ensure compliance with international maritime protection, crew health and welfare legislation, and to avoid exhaustion.
Although, because of COVID-19 limitations, after several months at sea, significant numbers of seafarers have to continue their service on board ships, unable to be replaced or repatriated after long duty tours. This is considered unsustainable for the health and well-being of seafarers as well as for the safe operation of maritime commerce.
Maritime Business World