The UK Chamber of Shipping, the voice of the UK shipping industry, has joined global industry and human rights leaders, including A.P. Møller – Mærsk, BP, BW, Cargill, COSCO, DOW, Euronav, MISC, NYK, Rio Tinto, Shell, Trafigura, Unilever and Vale, in signing the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change in a worldwide call to action to end the unprecedented crew change crisis caused by COVID-19.
Hundreds of thousands of seafarers from across the globe have been left stranded working aboard ships beyond the expiry of their initial contracts and are unable to be relieved since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Fatigue after long periods at sea has significant consequences on the physical and mental wellbeing of seafarers. It also increases the risk of maritime incidents and environmental disasters, and poses a threat to the integrity of maritime supply chains, which carry 90% of global trade.
Commenting on the situation, UK Chamber of Shipping Chief Executive Bob Sanguinetti said:
“We are delighted to join the 350 other signatories to the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change. Seafarers have been the unsung heroes of the last year delivering the food and medicines we need but there is a humanitarian crisis at sea. The global inaction we have seen is completely unacceptable and we need governments and international organisations around the world to act now to get seafarers changed over and to put an end to this crisis.”
The Chamber has consistently called for seafarers to be recognised as key workers and for resolutions to be found to end the crew change crisis. Last summer the Chamber wrote to the UK Prime Minister and asked him to convene an international summit on the issue. Although the UK government agreed to this and recognises seafarers as key workers, over six months later we are still faced with the unacceptable situation of crew who cannot leave their ship.
About the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Chang:
More than 300 companies and organisations recognise they have a shared responsibility based on their roles across the entire maritime value chain, and beyond, to ensure that the crew change crisis is resolved as soon as possible. They have signed the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change that defines four main actions to facilitate crew changes and keep global supply chains functioning:
- Recognize seafarers as key workers and give them priority access to Covid-19 vaccines
- Establish and implement gold standard health protocols based on existing best practice
- Increase collaboration between ship operators and charterers to facilitate crew changes
- Ensure air connectivity between key maritime hubs for seafarers