As vaccination starts, a new crew change crisis arises!
A resolution for a global seafarers vaccination program proposed by the Cyprus shipping deputy ministry (SDM) has been officially adopted by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The resolution calls for a mapping exercise to identify the number of vaccines required for seafarers ashore at seafarer supplying countries.
Nevertheless, the slow rollout of a global vaccination program for seafarers is proving troublesome for the shipping industry with some shipowners, operators and charterers now saying they will only take crew who have had both shots of their Covid vaccine.
“If you want to continue to be a seafarer, then you need to get the vaccination; companies are only giving employment to those who have taken their vaccine doses,” Abdulgani Serang, general secretary of the National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) wrote in a message to members this week.
Adding a further kink to crew availability, the soaring volume of Covid cases in India has seen many places around the world ban crew changes for anyone with a recent travel history to India.
Frustrated by the lack of progress in the vaccine rollout for seafarer key workers and the slow pace of international efforts, InterManager, the association of third party shipmanagers, has vowed this week to work separately to obtain much-needed Covid-19 vaccines.
Some of the largest names in the shipmanagement business – including Anglo-Eastern and Fleet Management – have in recent weeks started to source their own vaccine supplies to inoculate their seagoing staff.
The United Nations has designated seafarers as essential workers but so far only 58 countries have followed this directive and are prioritising seafarers to enable them to travel to and from vessels. In addition, vast numbers of seafarers originate from developing countries where the official rollout of vaccinations are hampered by the availability of vaccines, thus compounding the problem.
India and Belgium have this week committed to getting seafarers vaccinated at their ports.
International dry bulk shipping organisation Intercargo lashed out at the vaccination “lottery” facing seafarers in a release from March 31.
Not only are vaccine passports looking like a necessity for seafarers, even specific brands of doses are being demanded, something Intercargo said could lead to a breakdown in commodity deliveries around the world if strictly enforced.
Source: Splash247 (Click for further of the article)