Our colleagues at BIMCO launched a short video that makes clear the importance of international shipping to our current way of life and the vital role played by seafarers and everyone else in the maritime community in keeping the world fed, warm and moving. The video has been generously provided by BIMCO for use by the global shipping sector and we are pleased to support their actions. It is a powerful message that needs to be spread as widely as possible amongst national governments, authorities and the wider public.
The video can be viewed below:
FONASBA is joining with the other members of the international maritime industry group on COVID-19, coordinated by the International Chamber of Shipping, in raising awareness of the plight of 400,000 seafarers who are currently unable to return home at the end of their contracts or join their ships. This situation has arisen as result of a lack of action by some national authorities in recognising the special status of seafarers, and their importance to the global supply chain, and so allowing them to travel without needing to obtain visas or comply with other immigration rules.
The importance of seafarers in maintaining supply lines is vital to ensure that the world is fed, kept warm and moving, and provided with essential supplies, has been the subject of statements by the International Maritime Organisation and others across the entire spectrum of the maritime sector. Significant efforts have been made by IMO, the International Air Transport Association, the maritime sector and airlines to work together and put in place procedures and protocls to allow the physical movement of seafarers whilst negotiating the significant problems arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some national authorities have worked closely with maritime organisations to allow crew changes to take place and they are to be commended for their efforts. The top 10 countries for crew changes identified in May by the International Chamber were: The Netherlands, Germany, China, the United States, Belgium, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, Spain, Norway and the Republic of Korea. In total, crew changes were recorded as having taken place in 50 countries. Unfortunately, the refusal of other countries to roll back their normal procedures is placing lives, and the international supply chain, at significant risk.
Of the 200,000 seafarers still stranded on their ships, many will not have been home for 14 to 16 months, having already had their contracts extended as an immediate and necessary response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The same number are waiting to replace them. The nature of seafaring has always brought with it significant mental health risks but these have been significantly exacerbated by the current situation around repatriations and suicides amongst trapped seafarers have risen sharply.
FONASBA members worldwide are joining with their counterparts in the ship owning, crewing, port and related sectors to lobby immigration authorities to lift the restrictions on seafarer movements. In support, FONASBA and the other industry group members have issued a common statement that sets out the situation in clear and unequivocal terms. It is reproduced below but can also be downloaded as a .pdf here.
Rest assured that we will continue to lobby governments and their immigration authorities until free and unrestricted movement of seafarers can once again be undertaken.
We will bring our seafarers home!
FONASBA is one of a number of major maritime industry bodies to support a call from the International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH) to harness the pressure for change generated by the current COVID-19 pandemic to accelerate the pace of digitalisation within the international port and logistics sectors.
In a statement issued today (Tuesday 2nd June) IAPH, endorsed by FONASBA and a range of port, cargo handling, ship owning and ship operating organisations, have called on regulators, port operators and the wider supply chain to recognise the advantages and resilience provided by an increased use of digital technologies in ports. At present, less than 40% of the Member States represented in IMO have functioning port community systems and the statement calls on IMO to press forward with implementation of the mandatory requirements enshrined in the FAL Convention for Member States to introduce single windows and to press ahead with harmonisation of data sets for ship reporting, just in time arrival and streamlining of port services. Introducing the long-awaited electronic bill of lading is another objective.
The statement also calls on all stakeholders to cooperate on the development of platforms for the exchange of data and “smart working” along the entire supply chain, backed up by capacity building initiatives including workforce training and the introduction of enhanced cyber security provisions.
A copy of the statement can be found here.
Due to the restrictions on travel put in place by the UK Government on Monday, 16th March to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and in common with many other organisations, the FONASBA Secretariat office will be closed until further notice. With immediate effect therefore, General Manager Jonathan C. Williams FICS and Assistant General Manager Victoria Marsh FICS, will be working from home.
Both our Secretariat email addresses, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com continue to be monitored at all times and telephone calls should be directed to Jonathan Williams’ mobile number +44 7778 497707.
We will of course notify the reopening of the Secretariat office as soon as we are able to do so.
Following the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation across the European Union on Friday, 25th May 2018, FONASBA has developed and issued policies codifying how it complies with the Regulation provisions. Copies of these policies can be downloaded here.