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, warned the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ).
The restricitons posed by COVID-19 pandemic has left hundreds of thousands of seafarers stranded onboard ships for several months beyond their contracts, in breach of MLC. The IMO has urged nations to classify seafarers as “essential workers” in order to facilitate their smooth transit on shore, but so far only about 55 countries have done this.
The warning follows a call by the Authority earlier in February for a global network of crew change hubs that could help alleviate the humanitarian crisis seafarers are dealing with.
If seafarers are not available to operate the ships, those vessels will simply lay alongside idle. Does the world need that now?
…said Rear Admiral (retired) Peter Brady, MAJ Director General, warning that the industry needs to demonstrate to world leaders the vital role crew play in the supply chain.
With this respect, he highlighted the need to educate and sensitize, both business leaders and consumers across the world, as to the important role of shipping trade and the fact that ships are staffed by persons who need to be rotated promptly at the end of their contracted shift at sea. He also stressed 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.
On his part, Admiral Brady, former chair of the IMO’s HTW Sub-committee and currently Jamaica’s chief technical delegate to the IMO, said that industry leaders and legislators should come together to discuss the situation before crisis point is reached.
It seems that it is time for another global summit to include the United Nations, it’s relevant agencies such as the IMO, International Labour Organization, industry bodies such as the International Chamber of Shipping, and even the International Civil Aviation Organization. It should not be a talk shop but one which pledges to set goals for the industry and then sends a compelling document to the global financial institutions to indicate the impact on global trade if seafarers are not available to crew ships,