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.