The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has echoed earlier calls by shipping industry bodies for governments to recognise seafarers and marine personnel as “key workers” providing essential services and therefore exempt from national travel or movement restrictions.
A Circular Letter issued earlier this week specifically calls on governments to permit professional seafarers and marine personnel to disembark ships in port and transit through their territory (i.e. to an airport) to allow crews to be changed and seafarers to be repatriated.
The letter reiterates earlier calls made by IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim, who said it was “crucially important that the flow of commerce by sea should not be unnecessarily disrupted.”
He said seafarers were “on the front line of this global calamity” and called for a “practical and pragmatic approach, in these unusual times, to issues like crew changeovers, resupply, repairs, survey and certification and licensing of seafarers”.