IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has circulated a preliminary list of recommendations for governments and relevant national authorities on the continued facilitation of maritime trade during the Covid-19 pandemic.
These recommendations have been proposed by a broad cross section of global industry associations, including the International Group of P&I Clubs, with consultative status representing the maritime transportation sector.
Lim reiterated the message contained in his most recent statement concerning the pandemic. “In these difficult times, the ability for shipping services and seafarers to deliver vital goods, including medical supplies and foodstuffs, will be central to responding to, and eventually overcoming, this pandemic. It is, therefore, crucially important that the flow of commerce by sea should not be unnecessarily disrupted. At the same time, the safety of life at sea and protection of the marine environment must also remain paramount.”
He urged all IMO Member States to ensure availability of shipping services to the commerce of the world, for the benefit of humanity. “Defeating the virus must be the first priority, but global trade, in a safe, secure and environmentally friendly manner must be able to continue, too”, he said
He noted that the hundreds of thousands of seafarers on ships were on the front line of the battle. “These are people, usually far from home and family. Their own health and welfare is as important as that of anyone else. Again, I urge a practical and pragmatic approach, in these unusual times, to issues like crew changeovers, resupply, repairs, survey and certification and licensing of seafarers”, said Lim.
IMO, industry partners and the WHO have been developing and issuing practical advice and guidance on a variety of technical and operational matters related to the coronavirus. These will be updated as appropriate as the situation develops.
Lim concluded by saying that he would be initiating a series of meetings and consultations with leaders from shipping, ports and other key related sectors “so that we can all better understand the issues being faced and develop sensible, practical and unified solutions”.