A meeting of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) facilitated by the UK Government has ended with the agreement of 13 states to help facilitate crew changes.
In his opening remarks to the online meeting, secretary general Kitack Lim told the audience that Covid-19 has had an unprecedented impact on all our lives, economies and societies.
“In these difficult times, the ability for shipping services and seafarers to deliver vital goods, including medical supplies and food, is central to responding to, and eventually overcoming, this pandemic,” added Lim.
A joint statement distributed by the UK Government for the 13 countries following the meeting emphasised the global concern for the plight of crew. “We, as the representatives of governments attending the International Maritime Summit on Crew Changes held on 9 July 2020 by the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, are deeply concerned by the global crisis.”
The meeting acknowledged that the crews’ tours of duty could not be extended indefinitely and pledged to encourage all IMO member states to recognise seafarers as key workers and to consider the legal possibilities for accepting internationally recognised documentation.
Furthermore, the member states agreed to “Engage, nationally, multilaterally and bilaterally, in discussions about implementation, to the maximum extent possible, as appropriate to the circumstances that may prevail nationally or locally, of the recommended framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.”
Included in the 13 countries that signed the declaration were: United Kingdom, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, and the US.