Namely, INTERCARGO informed that during this difficult pandemic, it is of vital importance to assist shipowners and seafarers to overcome these challenges by removing undue hinderance for seafarers so as to leave or join a ship in their ports.

We wish to highlight the logistical challenges with the repatriation of seafarers who have completed their sea service and seek their relief and re-joining their families. Though their colleague seafarers are standing by on shore in their home country, the relief process is stalled as many port states have imposed local regulations, travel and quarantine restrictions due to COVID-19, despite the IMO circulars to be mindful of free access to seafarers.

...the association said.

Without the regular crew changes, seafarers' mental health will be negatively affected, as they need support and sympathy during this outbreak period.

Seafarers need our support and compassion with measured, rather than overzealous, restrictions in relation to COVID-19. Without efficient crew changes, the supply chain would break down leading to basic product shortages and greater hardships for people around the world . . . Banning crew changes in ports brings high risks to crews, ships, ports and society. the statement noted.

Following the situation, INTERCARGO urges IMO Member States and all Port States to further adopt a realistic approach in order to boost crew changes' permission as an exception to the difficulties that COVID-19 has brought.

Concluding, apart from INTERCARGO, Maersk issued an emailed statement, according to which crew changes will be suspended for four weeks effective immediately until April 14, 2020.