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Bjørn Højgaard goes on the offensive in ongoing crew change crisis, calls for ports boycott

Bjørn Højgaard, CEO of Hong Kong shipmanagement giant Anglo-Eastern Univan Group, has gone on the attack, determined to highlight who he sees as the real cause of the ongoing crew change crisis, namely port states.

In a widely read post on LinkedIn, the well known name in shipmanagement questioned why shipping as a whole has so little emotionally vested in the crewing crisis, describing the way seafarers have been treated as “absolutely shameful”.

Højgaard stated that the real culprits are the ports and the nations – predominantly east of Suez – who have decided that they want ships and cargoes calling, but will not allow crew changes.

Højgaard hit out at the “myopic, egocentric policies” of many port states and in comments below the article he joined calls for a ports boycott.

Those ports that only take and don’t give should be boycotted

“[Those ports that only ‘take’ and don’t ‘give’ should indeed be boycotted. We need all ports to lift in unison to solve the problem,” Højgaard demanded.

“[S]eafarers onboard are increasingly being treated as pariahs, despite the fact that they have kept the global supply chain we call shipping functioning throughout the pandemic,” Højgaard wrote.

The shipmanager described how even fully vaccinated seafarers often have to quarantine for a total of 14-21 days before and after their flight to the port of embarkation, and once they do get on the ship, they are asked to self-isolate for another 14 days, to minimise the risk of bringing Covid onboard.

“When they do get into their job, they do so without family-sailing, oftentimes without shore-leave, having to guess if their contract duration will be honoured, and in the chilling knowledge that should they get injured on the job, many nations refuse to take them ashore to treat them,” Højgaard relayed of life at sea today, going on to note that mental health issues, including suicide, are on the rise.

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. Very true.
    Seafarers need to be treated with dignity and honour. A job is a job,be it anywhere.

    Same rules should apply everywhere, why different rules for seafarers.

  2. Whilst absolutely agreeing with this approach, who indeed is going to take a stand? It’s going to have to be a .org or a number of .org’s representing the spread across the industry coming out with a unified statement otherwise it’ll be another few paragraphs of sentiment or spoken word out there floating with no objective other than to make toe orator feel good about himself.

  3. Bjorn is right, but Andrew makes the key point on how to coordinate any decisive and direct action.
    Probably needs support of the ITF and Seafarers unions.
    Certainly, if some form of action is taken by ships in ports where crew repatriation is not permitted to block berths and stop cargo operations, government action will be forthcoming.

  4. The problem with crew taking action is they know they will be blamed and blacklisted. While there are significant issues in port states particularly in Asia we see far to many examples of poor planning and diligence by owners and managers. I could help managers with their boycott plans. Reach out.
    ITF Coordinator

  5. the present treatment of seafarers during the pandemic is a matter of serious to the lives of seafarers.
    its a pity that so far there has been no headway made by major organizations such as ITF, ILO,ICS, Intermanager to have any constructive meeting with all country heads to discuss and come up with a formula to allow ships crew to join and be repatriated at any port in the world.
    COVID is not going to disappear and we will live with this Virus.
    A meeting within the UN member States must be taken up, represented by ICS,ITF,ILO, Intermanager and representatives of all shipmanagers interested to resolve this stalemate.
    in my opinion Anglo-Eastern and V Ships being the largest Shipmanagers could get the ball rolling.

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