The Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has issued a call to action to end the crew change crisis and signed the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change.

MSC said the Covid-19 pandemic has had serious consequences on the physical and mental well being of those seafarers stuck at sea. It also risks causing serious disruptions to global trade.

MSC said it signed the declaration to accelerate action. The declaration defines four main actions: recognise seafarers as key workers and give them priority access to the Covid-19 vaccine; 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.

Soren Toft, ceo at MSC, said: “Seafarers and shipping have kept the world moving amid Covid-19 lockdowns and it is imperative that governments give full support to alleviate the crewing crisis and keep trade flowing unhindered.”

MSC said that its crewing offices have been in close contact with seafarers and their families to provide support since the issues began. MSC has also engaged directly with intergovernmental bodies and officials in certain countries to address specific situations, as a result some have agreed to allow crew changed and as such approved a standard of protocols to be followed.