The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the shipping industry in many ways, as many sectors are already experiencing the impacts. Therefore, the IMO and PSC discussed about the importance of protecting the seafarers as key workers.
Specifically, the port State control regimes reported that while the number of physical on-board ship inspections has reduced considerably, in order to protect both port State control officers and seafarers, the regimes continue to work to target high-risk ships which may be substandard.
Therefore, PSC regimes supported that it is important to take a "pragmatic, practical and flexible" approach and understand that exemptions, waivers and extensions to certificates have been granted by many flag States.
Moreover, the PSC regimes see eye to eye on collaborating to develop harmonized port State control practices and policies to ensure a consistent approach across the world and also welcomed the coordinating role of IMO.
Overall, the IMO and the PSC regimes issued a joint statement according to which
The respective roles of flag States and port States to solve this crisis, in terms of supporting maritime trade, are paramount, and can also be significantly assisted by the industry. At the same time, the safety of life at sea, the protection of the marine environment and the respect of seafarers as keyworkers must remain shared priorities.
On the invitation by the Secretary-General, the meeting on PSC inspections on during the COVID-19 pandemic was attended by representatives of the 10 Port State Control (PSC) regimes, namely the United States Coast Guard, the Viña del Mar Agreement and the Abuja, Black Sea, Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Paris, Riyadh and Tokyo Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) on port State control, as well as from the IMO Secretariat.