The Neptune Declaration Crew Change Indicator for January shows that the number of seafarers onboard vessels beyond the expiry of their contract has decreased from 4.7% to 3.7% in the last month. However, the omicron variant has resulted in some renewed crew change difficulties.
Overdue Crew Changes
ccording to the report, the number of seafarers onboard for over 11 months has decreased from 0.7% to 0.4%.
This newest data again shows a reduction that further supports the alleviation of the situation, as observed since September
However, as the data is based on the situation on 15th December 2021, the most recent effects of omicron are not reflected by the January numbers and observations.
Namely, the contributing ship managers have highlighted the following key developments that have impacted crew changes in the past month:
- Omicron has caused many countries to review their Covid protocols and reimpose restrictions, resulting in renewed crew-change difficulties.
- There are continued reports of the reluctance of some Russian and Eastern Europeans to be vaccinated, challenging regional crew supply and crew-changes.
- Restrictions have been reimposed in many seafaring nations in Asia and Europe as infection rates are rising.
The January Indicator shows that the aggregate percentage of seafarers from the sample who have been vaccinated has risen from 49.5% in December to 59.8% in January.
In comparison, the share of the population fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in several large shipping nations in Europe, North America and Asia is close to or above 70%.
More specifically, seafarer vaccination rates are at 59.8%, while in comparison the share of the population fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in the European Union is 68%,3 in Hong Kong 63%, in Japan 79%, in Singapore 83%, in the United Kingdom 71% and in the United States 62%.
Although the rates of seafarer vaccinations remain behind those of large shipping nations, the gap between vaccinated seafarers and seafaring nations is closing
the report highlights.
The data also shows that seafarer vaccinations are progressing with vaccine programs being established in numerous countries to offer vaccines to international seafarers.
Difficulties vaccinating seafarers:
- Resistance and hesitancy to take the vaccine among some seafarer nationalities.
- Vaccine availability issues in some geographies and access to booster vaccines.
- The lack of a global vaccine standard, resulting in many countries not recognising some of the most frequently used WHO approved vaccines, along with differing standards as to the length of vaccine validity.
Commenting on the findings of the crew change indicator, Kasper Søgaard, Managing Director, Head of Institutional Strategy and Development, Global Maritime Forum, said that while the January numbers seem encouraging, “we must remain cautious as they do not reveal the full impact of omicron as the new infection wave is not yet over.”
To avoid reigniting the crew-change crisis and reversing these recent positive trends, it is vital that the industry and governments make all efforts to ensure the effect on crew changes of omicron remain minimal