The ability of shipping services and seafarers to deliver vital goods, including medical supplies and foodstuffs, will be central to responding to, and eventually overcoming, the Covid-19 pandemic. The Baltic Exchange therefore supports a call by the Marshall Islands Registry for seafarers to be designated as key transport workers to enable crew changes amid Covid-19 restrictions around the world. Many countries have imposed travel bans and restrictions on crew changes in an effort to contain the spread of the disease. However, the unforeseen consequence of these travel bans is the prevention of the change of ships’ crews; either to join a ship or for crews to be relieved and return home to their families. We should all recognise the contribution of this invisible workforce which is keeping vital supply chains open and the need for regular crew changes to ensure vessel safety.
The Baltic Exchange endorses the sentiments expressed by IMO Secretary-General, Kitack Lim, in Circular Letter No. 4224, which states: “Defeating the coronavirus must be the first priority, but global trade, in a safe, secure and environmentally friendly manner must be able to continue, too.“
We welcome the stance taken by the UK government designating seafarers as key transport workers.