150,000 seafarers denied permission for crew change

New data compiled by The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC) has found that 150,000 seafarers are in need of crew change by 15 May. Lee Kok Leong, executive editor, Maritime Fairtrade, reports

This number is up by 50 percent from 100,000 when ICS first highlighted the problem with national governments and the G20 in March.  Continued inaction will see this number continue to rise as more seafarers require crew change.

The current situation risks the safety and mental wellbeing of seafarers. The continued inability to rotate seafarers on and off ships poses a serious threat to the ability of ships to deliver vital cargo at a time when countries need it most.

Guy Platten, Secretary General ICS, said: “Globally there are 1.2 million seafarers onboard 65,000 ships at sea. For the past two months crew change has all but completely stopped. This means that crew have not been able to disembark or embark ships at port and terms have had to be extended, but this is not sustainable.” 

He added new data indicates that 150,000 seafarers are in need of immediate crew change, with the potential for this number to increase significantly until travel restrictions are eased. 

“We are asking governments to support our seafarers, as they support us, and facilitate coordinated action.”

On May Day, the ICS and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) have coordinated ships around the world to sound their horns when in port at 12.00 local time to raise alarm over need for urgent crew change.  Also, through this gesture of solidarity, ICS and ITF hoped to show recognition of over 1.6 million maritime staff across the world, the unsung heroes of global trade.

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