150,000 seafarers sign virtual global petition on crew stagnation

There is an ongoing global petition aiming to draw the attention of the general public to the problems of over 150,000 seafarers that cannot leave or cannot join ship crews due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The initiative is from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Goodwill Maritime Ambassador for Bulgaria Capt. Andriyan Evtimov.

The purpose is to have the document signed online by at least 150,000 people – the same number of seafarers locked in by the COVID-19, and then send it to the IMO member-state governments with an appeal for immediate and urgent measures to facilitate the movement of seafaring personnel.

Recalled that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), had issued a marine notice, designating seafarers as essential duty workers who should be granted free movement despite the lockdown in some states.

Currently, only a few countries permit crewmember exchange in their ports, which has a direct negative impact on seafarers’ wellbeing, on the safety of navigation, and the global supply chains.

The petition aims to draw the governments’ attention to the fact that the maritime industry is the backbone of world trade, and continuation of the restrictive measures currently in place against seafarers would lead to detrimental effects for the global economy.

More than 90 per cent of world trade takes place by the sea, and seafarers are those who constantly, and in personal deprivation, carry out their mission ensuring the operation of the supply chain, including such for medical supplies to combat the pandemic.

The petition insists that: designate seafarers and other maritime personnel as “key workers”, which should be done by the adoption of new and clear national definitions and rules and procedures duly notified to all national authorities – maritime, immigration, health, and port authorities.

It also seeks to ensure free access and movement of seafarers to and from the ships, as well as for persons employed in shipping-related activities; permit a sufficient number of airplane flights related to embarkation and repatriation of seafaring personnel and movement of maritime transport specialists.

It requested that IMO and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) member-states develop and implement a unified simplified plan for the realisation of the above measures as soon as possible, and not to subject seafarers to mandatory quarantine upon debarkation from ships where it is possible to promptly make COVID-19 tests and the test results are negative.

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