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.
A Message from the President regading COVID-19
It is in times of crisis a level head must always prevail.
‘Many of you will recall your time in command or piloting when the old adage was never run from one bridge wing to another; always walk calmly give the appearance you are in control.
‘Our position as harbourmaster is responsible for the safety of the port and the community but is also charged with the responsibility to look after the welfare of seafarers trading to our ports and ensuring the safe and efficient movement of trade through our ports.
‘As indicated in the address of the Secretary General of IMO it is now more than ever that global trade is vital for the safety and welfare of our global communities.
‘Each of us works closely with our public health authorities to manage the potential risk and spread of the COVID-19 virus but it is vital now that you are the voice of reason and pragmatic solutions to assist governments to make an informed decision.
‘We like IAPH and ICS understand and support the need for trade to continue and we as Harbourmasters understand the need to keep our communities safe. Both can be achieved through rationale minds working to manage risk with all their stakeholders.
‘Consider all risk and human rights of all persons including our seafarers.
‘Stay safe and be the voice of reason.'
IHMA Congress postponement
As readers will be aware the IHMA Congress, scheduled for Hobart on 23-26 March, has now been postponed to 5-9 October 2020 at the same venue.
At IHMA the staff of the secretariat took into consideration all available information, weighed all possible options and came to the difficult decision to reschedule the IHMA Congress.
Venue for the 2020 Congress remains Hobart’s Grand Chancellor Hotel.
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).