More than 5,000 people have signed the global petition Seafarers Matter aiming to draw the attention of the general public to the problems of the hundreds of thousands of seafarers who cannot leave or join ships due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The initiative started five days ago, spearheaded by the International Marittime Organization’s goodwill maritime ambassador for Bulgaria, Captain Andriyan Evtimov.
The aim is to have the document signed online by at least the same number of people as that of the blocked crew – 150,000 and rising – and then send it to IMO member state governments with an appeal for immediate and urgent measures to facilitate the movement of seafaring personnel.
Global trade unions have given governments and the shipping industry until June 15 to fix the crew repatriation problem.
To assist governments to put in place coordinated procedures to facilitate the safe movement of seafarers, the IMO has this month issued a 12-step plan to 174 member states, providing them with a roadmap to free seafarers from their Covid-19 lockdown and allow appropriate exemptions for them to join or leave ships.
The 55-page roadmap has been advanced by a broad coalition of seafarer unions, and international shipping industry associations, with input from airline industry representatives, international organisations, and the insurance sector, to provide a comprehensive blueprint of how governments can facilitate crew changeovers and resolve safety concerns throughout the entire process.