Accordingly, the statement includes 15 measures proposed Governments could adopt, such as:

  1. designate seafarers as key workers
  2. undertake national consultations involving all relevant ministries, agencies and departments to identify obstacles to crew changes
  3. implement protocols for crew change
  4. refrain from authorizing any new extension of seafarers' employment agreements beyond the default maximum period of 11 months
  5. facilitate the diversion of ships from their normal trading routes to ports where crew changes are permitted
  6. accept internationally-recognized documentation as evidence of their status as key workers
  7. provide seafarers with immediate access to medical facilities in the port State
  8. review the importance of any national and/or local restrictions that may continue to apply to the movement and travel of seafarers in relation to crew changes
  9. increase access to commercial flights in reasonable proximity to seaports where crew changes are affected
  10. permit seafarers to disembark from ships in port and transit through their territory for the purpose of repatriation and crew change
  11. allow seafarers to return home and take all actions needed to expedite their return
  12. facilitate clearance of seafarers who are citizens or permanent residents of their State so they can travel to join the vessels
  13. undertake bilateral and multilateral discussions between governments to eliminate obstacles of seafarers' movement
  14. implement guidance issued by the UN agencies aiming to ensure safety and health of seafarers and the public
  15. take any other actions deemed useful to address this issue.

The statement highlights that

We ask government to bring the contents of this joint statement to the attention of the competent authorities and all others concerned.

The statement was issued by the Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Director-General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the CEO and Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact and the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

To remind, the COVID-19 pandemic not only impacted the shipping and economic operations, but only affected the seafarers' lives, with many shipping stakeholders urging the industry to find a rapid solution.

Although many ports are now operating normally, some are still closed.0

Moreover, in an exclusive interview with SAFETY4SEA, Seafarer UK’s Chief Executive Officer, Catherine Spencer, highlights the negative impact the pandemic has on seafarers' mental health.

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IMO - Circular Letter No4204 Add30