The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has called on governments to grant special travel exemptions to seafarers in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in order to keep supply chains moving.
The organisation would like to see professional seafarers and marine personnel, regardless of their nationality, designated as 'key workers' providing an essential service.
On the issue of crew changes, it says professional seafarers and marine personnel should be granted any necessary and appropriate exemptions from national travel or movement restrictions to allow them to join or leave ships, and that governments should permit professional seafarers and marine personnel to disembark ships in port and transit through their territory (ie, to an airport) to allow crews to be changed and seafarers to be repatriated.
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said it was "crucially important that the flow of commerce by sea should not be unnecessarily disrupted”. He said seafarers were "on the front line of this global calamity" and that the situation needed a "practical and pragmatic approach to issues like crew changeovers, resupply, repairs, survey and certification and licensing of seafarers."