Restrictions on crew change and repatriations are impacting cadets at a time when the shipping industry desperately needs to recruit more young people.
Crew travel problems can have a knock-on effect on cadet training by preventing cadets from reaching their ship placement to gain vital experience at sea or delaying them from returning to continue the next phase of their maritime studies.
During a webinar on seafarers’ welfare hosted by the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ,) panellists heard how the rotation of cadet berths had become a victim of the Covid-19 pandemic and global travel restrictions.
Captain Devron Newman, dean of the faculty of nautical studies and marine engineering at the Caribbean Maritime University in Jamaica, said delays in crew changes adversely impacted some cadets because they did not have the necessary documentation, such as Certificates of Competency or Proficiency that a fully fledged seafarer had to prove their role as a seafarer. The panel agreed that cadets needed to be afforded the same designation as qualified seafarers and be given appropriate passage to and from their ship placements.
The question of recognising seafarers as “essential workers” remains an issue of contention, with only about 60 countries having done so.
“This is just not good enough for these people who have done so much for us,” said Newman.