The global crew change crisis could lead to a shortage of seafarers if exhausted crew choose to leave the shipping industry rather than risk another long period trapped at sea, warns the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ).
Rear Admiral (retired) Peter Brady, MAJ Director General, advised of the potential danger to the shipping industry if there is a mass exodus of crews from their seagoing jobs to take up shore-based employment which gives them more time with their families. “If seafarers are not available to operate the ships, those vessels will simply lay alongside idle. Does the world need that now?”, he challenged, warning that the shipping industry needs to demonstrate to world leaders the vital role crew play in the supply chain.
Condemning the global “ignorance – or is it apathy” concerning the economic value of trade by sea to the world economy, he said: “There is an absolute need to urgently inform, educate, and sensitize both business leaders and consumers across the world as to the important role shipping plays in delivering 90% of global trade.
He advised that now is the time to speak to a wider audience: “I believe we need to now take the conversation to another level, to speak with the merchants, to speak with the financiers, the bankers, all the people who control the financial aspect of global trade.”
He continued: “What if the prevalence and malaise of this pandemic continue to cause uncertainty for the physical and mental health of seafarers, without some visible measures that recognize their special role in keeping the global economy viable? And they opt for not returning to sea? Let’s get somewhat granular. If 5% of the principal carriers of global goods, commodities and energy are pulled out of service because of crewing shortages, in real terms, how would that impact the global economy? What if numbers are more, stark, and a total of 10% of the seafarers do not return to sea and renew their Seafarers Employment Agreements (SEA)? Can the world survive that now?”