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.
Shipping is vital to the world supply chain. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial that all personnel involved are protected from infection, including those onboard ships and shore personnel who may need to temporarily go on ships or interact with seafarers.
IMO has circulated World Health Organization (WHO) guidance on the safe and effective use of personal protective equipment (PPE), to support decisions on use of PPE to minimize the risks of COVID-19 infection for seafarers, marine personnel, fishing vessel personnel, passengers and others on board ships.
This guidance also applies to shore personnel intending to go on board (such as pilots, port workers, port State control officers, ships’ agents and so forth); and when any of these people interact with each other.
The PPE guidance is available here per CL.No.4204/Add.15: Coronavirus (COVID 19) - Personal protective equipment http://www.imo.org/en/MediaCentre/HotTopics/Documents/COVID%20CL%204204%20adds/Circular%20Letter%20No.4204-Add.15%20-%20Coronavirus%20(Covid%2019)%20-%20Personal%20Protective%20Equipment.pdf
To support decision making and risk assessment, IMO has also circulated practical measures to address COVID-19 risks for all people involved on ships and in ports when they may need to interact with each other, available here per CL.No.4204/Add.16: Coronavirus (COVID 19) – COVID-19 related guidelines for ensuring a safe shipboard interface between ship and shore-based personnel
Recognizing that there are differences in national requirements, the guidelines propose a straightforward system to evaluate the risks and communicate the control measures that will be put in place, by mutual agreement, to reduce infection risk. They also propose simple steps and precautions to take if attendance onboard a ship is unavoidable. These include minimising the number of persons attending; using outer walkways rather than access through the crew accommodation; frequently cleaning hands and maintaining social distancing.
The COVID-19 related guidelines for ensuring a safe shipboard interface between ship- and shore- based personnel were proposed by a broad cross section of global industry associations in consultative status with IMO: ICS, IAPH, BIMCO, IACS, IFSMA, IMPA, INTERTANKO, P&I Clubs, CLIA, INTERCARGO, InterManager, IPTA, FONASBA, and WSC.
Account was also taken of input from the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC) and the International Support Vessel Owners’ Association (ISOA).
Early in September the IMO Media service reported that Hapag-Lloyd AG was the latest entity to join the Global Industry Alliance (GIA) for Marine Biosafety, an initiative launched in June 2020 by the IMO GloFouling Partnerships project. Here the initiative works to promote collaboration with the private sector to address two of the most pressing environmental issues of our time: invasive species and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
At this time the new member of the GIA joins forces with an expanding group of leading private sector champions representing a wide range of maritime industries affected by biofouling, including shipping, aquaculture, offshore oil and gas and ocean renewable energies.
There is a useful introductory article on the Alliance to be found here: www.glofouling.imo.org/post/new-member-joins-the-global-industry-alliance-for-marine-biosafety
Biofouling is the build-up of aquatic organisms, such as algae or small animals, on marine surfaces that can lead to the introduction of potentially invasive species to new environments, where they may threaten native species and cause irreversible damage to biodiversity. Additionally, biofouling increases the drag of ships, forcing them to burn more fuel to maintain speed.
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: