Over 300 signatories, including MSC and PSA International, have backed the Neptune Declaration on seafarer wellbeing and crew change, which aims to overcome the seafarer crisis.
Hundreds of thousands of seafarers have been impacted by the unprecedented crew change crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left many stranded on ships beyond the expiry of their contracts.
Despite significant efforts by international organisations, governments, industry associations, labour unions, NGOs and individual companies, the issue is still far from resolved, which is why the Neptune Declaration was established.
The declaration defines four main actions to facilitate crew changes and keep global supply chains functioning which include to recognise seafarers.
They include: to recognise seafarers as key workers and give them priority access to COVID-19 vaccines, to establish and implement gold standard health protocols based on existing best practice, to increase collaboration between ship operators and charterers to facilitate crew changes and to ensure air connectivity between key maritime hubs for seafarers.
CEO of MSC, Soren Toft, said: “As we move into the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the health and well being of our seafarers is at the top of our minds.
“The urgent matter of facilitating seafarer repatriations and crew changes is a vital one that needs immediate attention.”
Last year, MSC advocated to bring the issue of crew changes to the attention of governments and the company believes it is critical to ensure that seafarers are recognised as key workers.
“Seafarers and shipping have kept the world moving amid COVID-19 lockdowns and it is imperative that governments give full support to alleviate the crewing crisis and keep trade flowing unhindered,” Toft added.
Alongside MSC and PSA, other signatories include the CMA CGM Group, COSCO Shipping Lines, Evergreen Marine Corp, Hapag Lloyd, HMM, Maersk and ZIM.
Tan Chong Meng, group CEO of PSA International, said: “In our interconnected and independent world, multi-stakeholder collaboration and action are key.”
Those who have signed the Neptune Declaration recognise that they have a shared responsibility to ensure that the current crew changed crisis is resolved as soon as possible and to use the learnings from the crisis as an opportunity to build a more resilient maritime supply chains.
They have committed to take action to resolve the crew change crisis, based on their position and role in the value-chain, to ensure the rights and wellbeing of the seafarers who support global supply chains.