The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has published new and updated guidance to assist seafarers and shipowners against the challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic
Resources include guidance on vaccinations, manning agents, mental health issues and shore leave.
ICS secretary general Guy Platten commented, "The sector has been more united and effective in its response to the pandemic than most sectors. But we must ensure we maintain this spirit of collaboration and all pull together to anticipate and meet the needs of the world’s hidden key workers – seafarers.
“As the Delta variant threatens the global south, a part of the world that supplies nearly half of the seafarer workforce, with greater urgency, it is critical seafarers and shipowners have the resources needed to navigate the next stage of the pandemic.”
The new guides aim to assist seafarers with the knowledge to protect and support themselves through the next stage of the pandemic.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccination for Seafarers and Shipping Companies: A Practical Guide answers pressing frequently asked questions and Coronavirus (COVID-19): Seafarer Shore-Leave Principles sets out principles for providing shore leave while navigating severe travel restrictions across the globe.
Shore leave has been heavily impacted with crews forced to remain on board their ships for extended periods, well beyond their contracted dates without relief. As Riviera reported in March, this has led to a general rise in stress and associated mental health issues in crews.
Handling a Mental Health Crisis or Emergency and Spotting Suicidal Behaviour in Seafarers lays tools out for companies to create a caring onboard culture to address mental health matters.
Despite calls to secure access to vaccines for seafarers, data from the Neptune Declaration Crew Change Indicator in August showed that only 15.3% of seafarers are vaccinated. ICS notes that despite improvements in rates of vaccination, only 25% are fully vaccinated, and most are not in line to receive a vaccine through their national programmes until at least 2022.
Many within the industry have warned that the crew change crisis is a deterrent to existing workers and potential new recruits and has stretched global supply chains to a breaking point, with shortages of key goods reported, and shipping costs approaching all-time highs.
Manning Agency Guidelines was produced to help shipping companies choose reputable manning agencies and to ensure seafarers are recruited in line with the requirements of the ILO and to avoid losing valuable manpower to poor manning experiences.
Mr Platten concluded, “Seafarers have made enormous personal sacrifice over the last 18 months. While admirable, it has put enormous pressure both on them as individuals and on the global supply chain. ICS and our partners hope our new guidance will provide protection and assurance to seafarers around the world, and help improve their experience on board and on shore.
”The new guides were produced in association with International Maritime Health Association, INTERTANKO, International Transport Worker Federation, European Community Shipowners’ Associations, Intercargo, InterManager, International Association of Ports and Harbors, International Christian Maritime Association, International Marine Contractors Association, International Maritime Employers’ Council Ltd, Asian Shipowners’ Association, and the International Maritime Employers’ Council.
The guides can be accessed here.
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