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ICS, ITF call for urgent action on facilitating crew changes

The current deadlock caused by crew change bans across the globe is increasing the risk of marine accidents and jeopardises global supply chains essential to overcoming the pandemic, industry bodies insist urging governments to remove the restrictions.

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) have issued a joint call on behalf of seafarers to governments to facilitate the essential movement of seafarers and marine personnel.

The letter from the shipowners’ organisation and seafarers’ union to governments follows up on their dialogue with the G20.

The two organizations have already recommended the need for professional seafarers and marine personnel, regardless of nationality, to be designated “key workers” providing an essential service.

As such they need to be exempt from national travel or movement restrictions, to enable them to join and leave ships.

The industry is calling for a global strategy to be devised to establish cooperation among UN specialized agencies, governments and other relevant stakeholders, including major airlines, to enable changeover of ships’ crews as soon as possible.

“We call on all governments to identify ports in their countries, and appropriate airports nearby, from where crew changes can be resumed as soon as possible, and to inform IMO and the International Civil Aviation Organization accordingly,” a joint letter addressed to G20 leaders and ministers reads.

“We also call on governments, in the event of medical emergencies, to provide visiting seafarers with access to emergency medical treatment ashore and, if necessary, to facilitate emergency repatriation as required by the ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006. “

Each month around 100,000 seafarers need to be changed over from the ships they operate in order to meet international regulations on health and safety of seafarers.

However, the travel bans have left thousands of seafarers stranded on their ships for several months.

Combined with demanding tasks, both physical and mental, increases exponentially the risk of marine accidents and disasters happening, which is a daunting scenario for an already fragile and stretched global economy,” the joint letter stressed.