The Covid-19 pandemic has changed our life tremendously. Those at home are restricted in their movements and those at sea, who are always restricted in their movements, are now prisoned on board of their vessel as travel is strongly limited between countries. On the other hand, the crew and officers who are ready for joining the vessel are in most cases not allowed to join the vessel or are not able to book the necessary flights and or means of transport due to the unilateral decision of many countries. The European Confederation of Shipmasters’ Association (CESMA) of which we are a member is lobbying with the European Union and many other instances to make them aware of this problem which, if not remedied, will make that crew will become victim of fatigue which is a vital issue in the safety of navigation.
Besides CESMA also the European social partners in the shipping industry, ECSA (European Community Shipowners’ Associations) and ETF (European Transport Workers’ Federation) have taken similar action. In short following has been requested in relation to crewmembers and personnel: •Seafarers should be exempted from national travel bans;
•Maximum period of service should be approached in a pragmatic way; •Validity of seafarers certificates should be extended by 3 months for those not able to renew. Further-on pragmatism is requested by the PSC. •Member States should consider to put in place special assistance measures where possible to safeguard EU jobs. •Governments should afford special consideration for specialized staff, such as superintendents, inspectors to access and leave the vessels to conduct required inspections. More generally the Commission has been requested to keep open the maritime supply lines as 90% of the global trade is transported by commercial shipping and 40% of the world tonnage is controlled by European shipowners. Further info: https://www.bimco.org/covid19 We sincerely hope that you are all healthy and safe, be at sea or at home. Best Regards Koninklijk Belgisch Zeemanscollege vzw Collège Royal Maritime Belge asbl Signed: The President and Board Members.