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).
On 11 August the IMO reported that it had joined international efforts to assist the Government of Mauritius, following an oil leak from the bulk carrier mv Wakashio, which ran aground on 25 July off Pointe d’Esny natural area, south-eastern coast of Mauritius.
IMO and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)/United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Joint Environment Unit have jointly deployed an oil spill response expert. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and border closures in Mauritius, the expert was (on 11 August) awaiting onward travel via specially chartered UN flight from Nairobi, following COVID tests.
Approximately 3,894 tonnes of low-sulphur fuel oil, 207 tonnes of diesel and 90 tonnes of lubricant oil were on board the Wakashio. An amount of oil leaked following severe weather.
It is understood that the affected area is located in a very sensitive zone that includes the Blue Bay Marine Park, Iles aux Aigrettes, and the Ramsar sites.
At the time of writing (11 August) satellite mapping support was being sought from UNOSAT, to provide an indication of the extent of the spill and to inform the response effort.
A new Just In Time Arrival Guide which aims to provide both port and shipping sectors with practical guidance on how to facilitate Just In Time Arrivals has been released. This was reported by IMO on 11 August.
To download the Guide readers are invited to see IMO web link here: http://www.imo.org/en/OurWork/PartnershipsProjects/Documents/GIA-just-in-time-hires.pdf
This Guide has been developed by the Global Industry Alliance to support low carbon shipping (Low Carbon GIA), based on research and discussion amongst its membership, and the Guide documents the findings of a series of industry roundtables which brought together nearly 50 companies and organizations who are key stakeholders in the port call process.