Australian shipowner and port agency organisation Shipping Australia Limited (SAL) has called upon Australian governments and all relevant government authorities to adopt the IMO protocols and to help seafarers get to and from their ships.
A plan to save 150,000 trapped seafarers has been put together by global maritime bodies and has been issued by the United Nations agency, the International Maritime Organization (IMO). A population of 150,000 trapped people is about equivalent in size to the population of Cairns or Darwin.
Governments, in all their forms and at every level, are urged by the IMO to permit seafarers to travel and to also permit the operation of all necessary services – such as flights and airport services – to enable crew changes.
The IMO has produced a 60-page set of very detailed protocols that governments and authorities in the maritime, health, customs, immigration, border control, seaport, civil aviation, and other sectors should implement to help facilitate safe crew changes.
SAL says that Australia has been culpable in helping to keep seafarers at sea. However, there has been some welcome moves to ease restrictions on seafarer movements. On 9 April, the National Cabinet agreed to a uniform and consistent exemption from border restrictions for maritime crew.
Australian state and territory alignment is proceeding at differing speeds. Queensland, Tasmania, and South Australia now appear to be fully aligned with the National Cabinet decision. The Northern Territory is moving toward alignment. But there has been little to no progress in New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia.
“Supply chains must remain open so that everyday essential goods, foodstuffs and medical supplies continue to flow into countries worldwide. For this to occur, it is vital that crew changes can take place and that seafarers, subject to sensible and reasonable health controls, should be allowed to move between countries,” said Shipping Australia deputy chief executive officer Melwyn Noronha. “Shipping Australia calls upon Australian governments and all relevant government authorities to adopt the IMO protocols and to help seafarers get to and from their ships”.