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Governments must bring in exemptions for seafarers following summit

09 Jul 2020
Press Release

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has called on the world’s governments to act swiftly to give seafarers visa, border and quarantine exemptions in order to make crew changes possible and resolve the present crisis.

ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton represented the global federation’s one million seafaring members today, at the International Maritime Virtual Summit on Crew Changes hosted by the United Kingdom in London.

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 Stephen Cotton.

“We thank those countries who came together today for their commitment, and now call on those ministers and officials who signed the dotted line need to head back to their countries and follow through on these critical pledges by bringing in practical exemptions and waivers that allow seafarers to move freely to enable safe crew changes and repatriation to their home countries.”

“What we want to do is remind all governments today that while you’re predominant focus is on responding to the economic challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, that response cannot ignore the plight of seafarers, and their fundamental human dignity.”

“After months of this crew change crisis getting worse, governments must do their bit. That means that port states where ships dock; flag states where ships are registered; transit hubs with airports; and the home countries of seafarers, all need to make visa, quarantine and border exceptions for seafarers now, not tomorrow, not next week,” said Cotton.

The ITF has repeatedly warned that if governments fail to act to bring in practical exceptions for seafarers, and support more flights being available, then there are serious risks for the wellbeing of seafarers, for maritime safety, and for critical supply chains.

“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,” said Cotton.

“Governments must move from ‘appreciation [of] the world’s seafarers who have continued tirelessly to operate ships and move trade throughout this global crisis’ to concrete action. Now it’s about accountability, words will not get our people off these ships,” concluded Cotton.

For more see UK government press release on the new international commitment and joint statement of the international maritime virtual summit on crew changes.

Media contact: | +44 20 7940 9282


Ming Qiang
9 months ago

Looks like that the Covid-19 becoms seriously in Hk, it's more difficult to carry out crew change for all the crew members, who are still working on board ship.
God bless you! Be safe and bon voyage!

9 months ago

Ой,как много громких слов. Нас,моряков,так оказывается уважать должны и благодарить. Подождем тут все или с ума сойдём окончательно с вашей деятельностью и симуляцией благодарности. А потом остальная половина моряков умрет,что дома сидела пока. Как же хочется вас тоже поблагодарить,а не за что. Бесполезные мешки с картошкой в костюмах вы!! Позор!!!

Ming Qiang
9 months ago

Only ITF works for our seafarers! Thank you very, very much for your hard working!

9 months ago

We are not prisoners !!! Let Us Go Home !!!

jackie saavedra
9 months ago

from mv atalante we want i want to signed off to be home...
i hope i get a reply from your good heart

8 months 3 weeks ago

Goverment of all countries, merely words are not sufficient. Action must not only be done but must be seen to be done. Searfarers and our families are suffering due to this endless restriction. We are kept on board our vessels against our will.