10 Feb An initiative called “Neptune Declaration”
More than 300 companies have signed the “Neptune Declaration” to help seafarers
As you know, about 90% of world trade is transported by sea, and restrictions due to coronavirus in many jurisdictions affect supply chains. And there is also a situation when seafarers are unable to leave their ships due to these restrictions as the pandemic takes a new turn with an increase in the number of infections from a new strain of virus.
Back in December, the UN General Assembly called on all countries to appoint seafarers as key workers, we talked about this in one of our articles. But still ship crews are struggling to swap over with colleagues on land.
Shipping industry officials say many seafarers are at breaking point, many of them have been at sea for longer than the 11-month limit laid out in a maritime labour convention.
Shippers, traders and miners join hands
To solve this problem, more than 300 leading companies have come together to help the seafarers stucked at sea for months by a pandemic crisis, which could create new dangers at sea.
Not just shipping, but also companies from mining and trading sectors have decided to join hands to work for these seafarers stuck on ships for months.
At the present time, companies from the shipping sector (including shipping groups such as AP Moller Maersk), companies from the mining (Anglo American and Rio Tinto) and trading sectors (Cargill, Trafigura and Vitol), also the oil giants such as BP and Shell , decided to unite and intensify the information-sharing as signatories to an initiative called the “Neptune Declaration”.
“We all have a responsibility to take care of seafarers, their well-being is important to safe and efficient work,” says Keith Kernon, Vitol’s head of shipping.
Being on a ship for a long time and taking care of cargo is a stressful job and it is a risk to physical and mental well-being.
Facilitation between operators and charterers
The signatories to the Declaration will also enhance cooperation between shipping operators and charterers so that crew change procedures can be sped up . And the requirement for the designation of key worker status for seafarers will continue.
As Jeremy Nixon, chief executive of shipping group ONE, said, “They (the mariners) have become hostages of the situation and unable to disembark from their ships. We are witnessing a humanitarian crisis at sea. “
“It is critical that the industry comes together to provide a collaborative response,”- Ashley Howard of Rio Tinto added.
IMO supports the Neptune Declaration on Seafarers
Last week, IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim welcomed the industry’s “Neptune Declaration”, which calls for seafarers to be designated as key workers and for cooperation to end the crew change crisis that is not only putting seafarers in a desperate position, but also endangers the safety of shipping and world trade.
Today IMO has received 53 notifications from Member States that they have appointed seafarers as key workers and one notification from an Associate Member.
“I am pleased to see the industry come together under the Neptune Declaration to support ways to resolve the crew change crisis. This largely reflects the calls of the IMO and related UN structures. I encourage more companies, including charterers, to get involved and show their support for our seafarers, ” -Mr Lim said.
He also highlighted IMO’s World Maritime Theme for 2021 “Seafarers: At the core of shipping’s future ”. The choice of theme reflects the efforts of seafarers who have shown tremendous fortitude and perseverance in continuing to supply global trade in the current unprecedented situation the world is facing.