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Australasian trade in trouble as 14-day ship bans come into play

Lobby group Shipping Australia has hit out at the decision by authorities to demand that vessels cannot enter local waters until 14 days have passed since they left an overseas port.

The measure had originally been put in place a month ago for ships leaving China, but as the coronavirus has spread around the world Queensland has decided the fortnight ruling ought to apply for all ships coming from overseas.

The directive from Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) states that any ship must not enter a Queensland pilotage area until 14 days have elapsed since the ship or any relevant person onboard the ship left a country outside Australia, whichever is later.

Shipping Australia has argued that the new ruling could cause serious supply chain issues for the country.

Shipping Australia’s CEO, Rod Nairn, commented: “The MSQ policy is reckless and indefensible, cargo ship crews are probably the lowest risk sector in the world with not one cargo ship crew member yet being confirmed as having Covid-19”

Splash has reported today of one confirmed Covid-19 case involving a seafarer in South African waters.

Several shipping services to and from Australia are only six to eight days duration and ships would have to potentially wait around for up to 14 days to enter.

Some shipping lines may well be forced to omit port calls or, in the worst case scenario, stop calling at Australia altogether, the lobby group suggested today.

Australia also serves as a hub for the less developed nations in the Pacific, along with Papua New Guinea.

Meanwhile, New Zealand and Australia both have 14-day exclusion periods meaning trade between these two neighbours is now under enormous strain.

Border authorities and port authorities in Australia and around the world are beginning to close their borders. The concerns raised by Shipping Australia and the issue of crew changes are set to be discussed at an emergency meeting called by the International Chamber of Shipping tomorrow.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. I think there needs to be a realistic assessment of the impact.

    Some transit times between Asia and Brisbane are 21 days and will not be impacted by this decision.

    If other ports do not follow suit, port call reversals can occur or in the event of minor tonnage, can be short shipped to other east coast ports and either railed or carried via coastal calls.

    When most of Australia is panic buying supplies in the supermarket, headlines need to be reevaluated for information and not panic click bait.

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