Philippines starts "green lane" for seafarers in Asia
The Philippines has opened the first "green lane" for mariners in Asia to enable seafarers and staff to move freely across borders, helping to ease the crisis of crew change that has left hundreds of seafarers stranded at sea.
The repatriation of crews is encouraged by the signing of a Joint Circular, an initiative led by the Foreign Affairs Department of the Philippines, which has worked hard to repatriate thousands of its sailors over the past few months.
The country is known for being the largest supplier of crew to the foreign shipping industry in the world.
By the end of June, DFA managed to repatriate more than 59,000 Filipinos overseas from sea-based and land-based positions around the globe who were stranded due to restrictions on lockdowns.
About 400,000 seafarers have been affected by the travel restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the COVID-29 virus, with 200,000 employees having overrun their contracts and now being stranded on vessels.
The Joint Circular, which took effect upon signing on July 2, is created by the Government of the Philippines to ensure that seafarers are granted speedy and secure travel, subject to health protocols required by the Government of the Philippines, including secure and prompt disembarkation and change of crew during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This also aims to avoid the spread of COVID-19 to both Filipino and international seafarers, whether they are inbound, outbound or transiting during change of crew.
In addition, the Joint Circular would encourage the development of regulated travel corridors to open the Philippines to people-to-people and to stimulate the economy of the country in the midst of its ongoing battle against the pandemic.
“We need to address the situation of the world’s seafarers without whom there would be no shipping and who ensure the maintenance of global supply chains,” the Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin said.
“With these guidelines, we are answering the call of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the maritime industries, to put in place a framework for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. And we are doing more,” he added.
Maritime Business World