International Group steps up pressure on crew change crisis

The International Group has said that it and its 13 constituent P&I Clubs were becoming “extremely concerned” about the effect on the mental well-being of seafarers as a result of their contracts being extended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

IG said that it was “fully appreciated” that governments and port authorities had to contend with many pressing issues, but it insisted that the plight of seafarers should be high on everyone’s agenda.

“To the extent that the issue is not resolved, seafarers’ lives and the lives of their families will continue to be adversely impacted”, IG said, noting that it shared the concerns of the IMO and ILO for the long-term wellbeing of seafarers.

Many seafarers have not returned home for over a year and face considerable uncertainty as to when they may be able to do so. IG warned that such long tours of duty were mentally and physically draining and could affect seafarers’ ability to perform duties on board in a safe manner.

The International Group said that it had been working with a number of other industry organisations to try to find a way forward, with the ICS leading on the issue from the shipowners’ side.

The most recent update on Protocols for Ensuring Safe Ship Crew Changes and Travel During the Covid-19 Pandemic was submitted to the IMO by the ICS for endorsement on October 13th.

IG noted that a number of governments had engaged constructively with this process already. “It is to be hoped that more and more governments will recognise seafarers as key workers and enable crew changes to take place in accordance with these Protocols”, the Group concluded.