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.