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Ports Australia inks Neptune Declaration, highlights seafarer crew change crisis

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Ports Australia has signed the Neptune Declaration, joining more than 800 companies worldwide with a shared responsibility of collaboration to overcome the seafarer crew change crisis.

Hundreds of thousands of seafarers who bear the load of roughly 90% of world trade have been stranded aboard ships throughout the pandemic because of the widespread inability for crew changeovers to occur or for shore leave to be granted.

As per Global Maritime Forum’s website:

The Neptune Declaration urges the implementation of four main actions to address the crisis, which are to recognise seafarers as key workers and give them priority access to Covid-19 vaccines; establish and implement gold standard health protocols based on existing best practice; increase collaboration between ship operators and charterers to facilitate crew changes; and ensure air connectivity between key maritime hubs for seafarers.

The crisis continues to ravage seafarers, now with heightened challenges given the recent COVID-19 outbreaks across the Indian subcontinent, a development having flow-on effects throughout the international supply chain.

In case you missed it: Ports Australia publishes its Coastal Shipping Factsheet

Ports Australia strongly supports and encourages the recognition of seafarers as essential workers which will ultimately be a stepping stone to facilitating strong testing, vaccination, and crew changeover regimes.

After the Australian Federal Government enacted its class exemption process for maritime crew in April 2020, turmoil continued as the state and territory jurisdictions around the nation enforced their own restrictions and protocols, causing complex and often near unsolvable challenges for cross-border travel and crew changeovers.

At this point, Ports Australia called for the Australian Federal Government to bring more transparency to the various governments’ management of the pandemic via a routinely updated document issued by the Federal Government in collaboration with each state or territories’ most relevant government entity, which concisely outlined the current protocols around the nation.

This initiative, while not necessarily aiding to facilitate crew changeovers, would at least provide basic information to global shipping companies to inform their decisions on the best ways to support their staff.

Ports Australia also continues to urge the Federal Government to consider this necessity given the continued crisis we face.

The organisation says this responsibility had to be taken up by industry, with Ports Australia commending Shipping Australia on their continued work in this space, and the ongoing efforts of other industry leaders to advocate for the welfare of seafarers including Maritime Industry Australia Limited, Shipping Australia, Maritime Union of Australia, and International Transport Workers Federation.

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