Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
The IMO Secretariat will continue to monitor all developments related to COVID-19 and will advise as soon as possible on the future postponement of meetings beyond the end of March. This was reported by IMO Media on 6 March.
This move takes into account the decision of the UK on 5 March 2020 to move towards the “delay” phase of its Coronavirus action plan: a guide to what you can expect across the UK, similar actions adopted by other UN agencies, and the increased difficulties for delegates from IMO Member States travelling from abroad to attend IMO meetings.
The following IMO meetings are postponed:
The Scientific Group of the London Convention and London Protocol scheduled to take place from 9 to 13 March 2020;
The 107th session of the Legal Committee, scheduled to take place from 16 to 20 March 2020.
IMO will continue to monitor all developments related to COVID-19 and will advise as soon as possible on the future postponement of meetings beyond the ones listed above.
Rescheduling of meetings will be announced in good time to allow delegates to make appropriate arrangements.
IMO Member States have been advised by circular letter and email to diplomatic contact points.
Readers may wish to be aware of relevant briefings available from organisations here:
World Health Organization
International Maritime Organization
European Centre for Disease Control
International Maritime Health Association
International Chamber of Shipping
Our picture shows a Carnival line up. Five Carnival ships are due in Durban in week commencing 24 May. (Photo: www.africaports.co.za )
No less than five Carnival Cruise ships are due to arrive in Durban between 26 and 28 May to take on bunkers and to restock depleted supplies.
These five ships are part of a group of 12 engaged in the humanitarian task of repatriating over 26,000 crew from the Carnival fleet and other companies, as well as personnel from entertainment centres ashore, who because of the coronavirus pandemic, have had their employment suddenly curtailed.
Hotel staff and entertainers
These are the entertainment staff, the onboard shop workers, beauty salon practitioners, waiters and bus boys, chefs and kitchen staff, cabin cleaners, pursers and front desk people all making up the staff working on board cruise ships.
With cruising curtailed these former employees are finally returning home to destinations like India, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines after having remained on board their ships for more than two months, unable to go ashore or receive visitors ever since cruising operations were suspended in mid -March. Ahead they face another three or four weeks at sea before being allowed to disembark. However, there’s something of a problem.
Call to governments
IFSMA* calls upon Governments to adopt the ‘Framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the COVID-19 pandemic’ without delay to allow ship owners and management companies to change over their dangerously tired crews.
Governments must act now in order to avoid personal injury to, and mental breakdown of, seafarers and avoid the significant risk of accidents and consequential danger to life and the environment.
Concern at IFSMA
IFSMA is receiving an increasing number of reports from its ship masters’ associations around the world concerned for the welfare and safety of crews and the increased risk with which they are operating in an already high risk environment. Seafarers are feeling let down and abandoned by their Governments.
Following concerns from the maritime industry, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) issued a circular to all Member States, the UN and agencies and IGOs and NGOs in consultative status with IMO. This document concerned recommendations to Member States about measures to facilitate ship crew changes in seaports during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IMO Secretary General has received a framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the pandemic, proposed by a cross-section of global industry associations in consultative status with the IMO, for example: ICS, IAPH, BIMCO, IFSMA, and P&I Clubs as well as the International Air Transport Association (IATA).