The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has called on governments worldwide to deliver visa, border, and quarantine exemptions to enable seafarer repatriation amid the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

Alongside the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the ITF issued a joint call on behalf of seafarers for governments to facilitate crew changes in April 2020, as HLPFI reported

Stephen Cotton, ITF general secretary represented the global federation’s one million seafaring members at the International Maritime Virtual Summit on Crew Changes, hosted by the UK on July 9.

“Governments today adopted a statement pledging to urgently take forward a range of actions to ‘avert the global crisis that is unfolding at sea’ for the more than 200,000 seafarers who are trapped working on ships beyond their contracts, and desperately wanting to return home,” said Cotton. The joint pledge can be read here.

Cotton thanked the government officials for attending, but emphasised the urgent need to follow through on such pledges by bringing in practical exemptions and waivers: “[Governments] need to make visa, quarantine, and border exceptions for seafarers now, not tomorrow, not next week,” Cotton said.

Cotton acknowledged that whilst governments are focused on responding to the economic challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, the plight of seafarers must be integrated into this response.

He added: “We applaud those leaders who came together today for recognising the danger that tired fatigued crew working beyond their contracts present to seafarers’ personal welfare as well as the operation of global supply chains and preventing the potential increase of marine accidents and pollution – other nations need to step up.”