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IMCA continues to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis surrounding crew changes

Published on 20 August 2020

IMCA is collaborating with its International and European maritime social partners, the European Community Shipowners’ Association (ECSA) and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) in writing to the EU institutions, i.e. the Presidents of the European Parliament, Council, Commission and to the German Presidency, as well as the heads of EU Member States on the urgent topic of crew changes. The letters call for political leadership and commitment to the welfare of seafarers.

These letters highlight the fact that all industry stakeholders have been working incessantly over the past months to ensure crew changes are able to happen. While guidance on measures to be taken by operators and other authorities so that seafarers are designated ‘key’ workers and their travel facilitated have been incorporated in IMO protocols, the signatories consider that the current situation now merits attention at the highest political level and the letters seek European leaders support in achieving this.

While the content of each letter is being tailored to address the situation in each country, the letters are calling upon all European Member States to:

  • designate all seafarers, regardless of nationality, as key workers and facilitate their movement under conditions that safeguard their health and minimise the risks of COVID-19 infection;
  • ensure that seafarers are able to join and leave their ships for repatriation, crew changes, shore leave and medical attention without impediment; and
  • create the necessary conditions for seafarer air corridors from the EU Member States and key labour supply countries.

With some countries reinstating lockdown measures to contain local spikes in infection rates, there are concerns that this will actually lead to a further tightening of restrictions which will hamper crew change efforts.

IMCA will continue to support every effort to facilitate crew changes in line with the 12-step IMO Protocols which IMCA was involved in developing and which the IMO Secretary-General has urged Member States to implement.