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.
Late Friday (11 September) the IMO issued a Joint Statement with other UN entities to urge action on the crew change crisis
In the agreed document all Governments were called upon to immediately recognize seafarers as keyworkers, and to address the humanitarian crisis faced by the shipping sector.
The Statement was issued above the signatures of several UN agencies including IMO, ILO, UNCTAD, FAO and ICAO to urge all UN Member States to take action to urgently resolve the crew change crisis to avert a humanitarian disaster that will also affect the safety of shipping, the protection of the marine environment, the continuation of efficient trade and the recovery of the world economy.
The Joint Statement can be download here:
The maritime shipping sector faces a humanitarian crisis
The maritime shipping sector moves more than 80% of global trade and is a crucial component of the global economy. As a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic this sector, and in particular the seafarers who drive it, are facing severe challenges in making the necessary crew changes of seafarers. This is due, among other reasons, to restrictions on travel, embarkation and disembarkation in ports; quarantine measures; reductions in available flights; and limits on the issuing of visas and passports.
It is because of the sacrifices of seafarers, who have continued working after their contracts have expired, that ports have remained open for trade, so allowing cargo operations to be carried out in a timely manner and goods to continue to circulate smoothly. The world owes a great debt to seafarers for maintaining supply chains throughout the pandemic.
Actions taken by many governments that limit or prevent ship operators from conducting crew changes is the single most pressing maritime operational challenge to the safe and efficient movement of global trade. This has created a humanitarian crisis, with approximately 300,000 seafarers trapped working aboard ships who cannot be repatriated, and an equal number of unemployed seafarers ashore because they are unable to board ships. Those on board have had their contracts extended, sometimes beyond 17 months, and are facing fatigue and physical and mental health issues, leading to fears of self-harm and suicide. The International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Labour Organization (ILO) and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) have received thousands of urgent calls for help from seafarers and their families.
Governments around the world have been asked to bring the contents of this joint statement to the attention of the competent authorities and all others concerned.
Ship repair activity at Gibraltar’s Gibdock continued to be rock solid, despite uncertainties through the first three quarters of 2020 (to end September) relating to Covid-19 and Brexit. Occupancy levels remained high, contracts continued to be agreed and scheduled dry dockings are already booked into 2021, the Gibraltar-based yard reported in mid-October.
In the words of Richard Beards, Gibdock’s Managing Director: ‘The outlook is set fair.’ He went on to identify potentially greater revenue streams in LNG-related projects and renewables business for the months ahead. Beards said that Gibdock’s location at the gateway to the Mediterranean remains a key advantage but added that the repeat business included in forward bookings: ‘Shows that customers continue to put reliability, quality of work and on-time redelivery at the top of their priority lists.
‘In 2020, being part of a tight-knit business community where fast communications enable rapid response times and the immediate implementation of any changes to health or travel regulations has also proved advantageous. We are in constant dialogue with the Port Authority, and we have frequent contact with Gibraltar Civil Contingencies, the Director of Public Health, local agents, subcontractors, hotels and transport providers.’
Beards pointed out that close ties with the local ship agency network mean that Gibraltar is well-established as a safe and efficient location for crew changes.
The International Harbour Masters' Association (IHMA) is delighted to announce that its new President is Captain Yoss Leclerc of the Port of Quebec. He succeeds Captain Allan Gray, President and CEO, Halifax Port Authority, Canada.
Captain Leclerc was elected on 8 October at the conclusion of the IHMA Ordinary General Meeting held remotely for the first time due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The OGM was contributed to online by delegates from 13 countries.
In a statement to members Captain Leclerc pledged to help the Association meet the challenges facing Harbour Masters to ensure the sustainability of ports in the future.
"I like to quote the Japanese writer Ryunosuke Satoro who said, "Individually we are one drop, together we are an ocean".
I lived this philosophy at sea when you knew that it was necessary to work together in order to face any and all challenges and even more, to fight adversity.
My story continues when I came ashore and joined many different and amazing teams from Canadian Ports who were on the ground 24/7 to ensure safe, secure and fluid operations.
Harbour Masters are the embodiment of dedication, collaboration and teamwork. They are the magicians that make everything seem seamless, smooth and easy to the neophyte and even often to old-timers. I have so often heard the following comment after a port visit, "there's nothing happening here!" and I always respond: "because magic is going on behind the scenes where a dedicated and painstaking Port team looks after every aspect ensuring the show is going".
There are many challenges ahead of us, including environment (climate change, air emissions, ballast water, etc.), technology (digitalization, automation, etc.) and health (pandemics) that we will need to grasp and tackle together in order to ensure our ports' sustainability.
At the international level, IHMA has worked very hard to acquire its standing and ability to influence decisions regarding many aspects that have considerable impact on our operations and we will, with your help, continue to consolidate our position.
As a father of two wonderful daughters involved in the maritime field, I am glad to see the interest of women in "Harbour Mastering" and will continue to support the movement within my capacity.
I am very honoured and humbled to take the helm of this prestigious organization and will endeavour to sail the ship with the collaboration and support of you all to our next port of call, the 2022 Congress in Port Klang."