The COVID-19 pandemic was the catalyst for a long-term crew change crisis that has been the main cause of thousands of seafarers, around the world, being unable to join vessels or return home, and stranded without support.
Despite significant lobbying, and a range of organisations attempting to facilitate safe crew changes, this has continued to be a major issue for the shipping industry and for the welfare of seafarers around the world.
In response to this crisis, The Neptune Declaration has been instigated, a global call to action to address the seafarer crisis, formed by Maritime Industry Crew Change Taskforce following initial discussions at the Global Maritime Forum’s Virtual High-Level Meeting in 2020. The Mission to Seafarers has signed The Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change, alongside many others, to support this cause.
The alliance, which spans many leading organisations from across the shipping industry, including the ICS, ITF and Global Maritime Forum, is calling for progress in the following main areas:
- 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.
Andrew Wright, Secretary General of The Mission to Seafarers, commented:
“The Mission to Seafarers is delighted to be a signatory to The Neptune Declaration. This comes at a very important moment. The full global recognition of seafarers as key workers, together with the necessary concomitant actions, is long overdue. It is vital that the crew change issue is finally, fully and swiftly resolved. This, together with the linked demands of the declaration, represent basic practical and humanitarian necessities. We are grateful that so many have come together in support of this document.
“We trust it will make the necessary difference to all who have the power and influence to make these things happen. We also hope that it will further encourage the practical support of the heroic men and women who have sustained global trade throughout this crisis.”
Read more about the Neptune Declaration here.