More than 300 companies and organisations recognising that they have a shared responsibility based on their roles across the entire maritime value chain, and beyond, to ensure that the crew change crisis is resolved as soon as possible have signed the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change. The Declaration defines four main actions to facilitate crew changes and keep global supply chains functioning:
- Recognise seafarers as key workers and give them priority access to Covid-19 vaccines
- Establish and implement gold standard health protocols based on existing best practice
- Increase collaboration between ship operators and charterers to facilitate crew changes
- Ensure air connectivity between key maritime hubs for seafarers
Among the 300 are industry and human rights leaders, including A.P. Møller – Mærsk, BP, BW, Cargill, COSCO, DOW, Euronav, MISC Group, NYK, Rio Tinto, Shell, Trafigura, Unilever and Vale.
Last week in this article ShipInsight suggested that talking among ourselves in the shipping industry has little effect and wider publicity is needed. The British broadcaster BBC has this morning reported on the Neptune Declaration. It might prove useful if readers also made use of their social media contacts to bring this to greater attention.
Hundreds of thousands of seafarers from across the globe have been left stranded working aboard ships beyond the expiry of their initial contracts and are unable to be relieved since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Fatigue after long periods at sea has significant consequences on the physical and mental wellbeing of seafarers. It also increases the risk of maritime incidents and environmental disasters and poses a threat to the integrity of maritime supply chains, which carry 90% of global trade.
Progress on addressing the crew change crisis has been made through significant efforts by individual companies, international organisations, industry associations, labour unions, NGOs and some governments, but the situation is still not resolved as many seafarers remain stranded on vessels beyond the expiry of their contracts.
With the new Covid-19 mutations that spread more easily, some governments are introducing stricter measures on travellers in general and on seafarers and crew changes specifically, which can lead to a return to the untenable situation we saw last year.
Inability to crew change poses a significant threat to the integrity of maritime supply chains. Around 90% of global trade is transported by commercial shipping, which moves the world’s food, energy and raw materials, as well as manufactured goods and components – including vital medical supplies and many products sold in supermarkets.