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Thousand of seafarers stuck on ships with no internet

THOUSANDS of seafarers visiting New Zealand are stranded on their ships due to the 28-day quarantine restrictions in the Covid-19, reports the New Zealand branch of the London-based Mission to Seafarers

17 September 2020 - 19:00

THOUSANDS of seafarers visiting New Zealand are stranded on their ships due to the 28-day quarantine restrictions in the Covid-19, reports the New Zealand branch of the London-based Mission to Seafarers.

'Only a small percentage of these ships have internet wifi access for crew to contact home. Pre Covid-19, crew took shore leave, accessed counselling/advocacy support from seafarer chaplaincies and utilised shore-based wifi or purchased data to contact home,' it said.



Under Covid restrictions seafarers are now unable to access services and contact home, and to compound matters, their home countries are being devastated by the global pandemic.



'This has now developed into a humanitarian crisis, currently an estimated 300,000 seafarers are stranded at sea or in ports worldwide due to international border closures,' said the mission's statement.



'Many seafarers are compelled to work beyond their already lengthy nine-month contracts. The International Transport Federation has called for all seafarers to strike, to force crew changes, allow shore leave and to allow the availability of support services. If a strike went ahead, then 99 per cent of NZ's trade worth $120 billion that transits via the sea will come to a grinding halt, effectively crippling our economy,' it said.



The New Zealand Ministry of Transport have now deemed seafarer chaplaincy's an essential service where initially these services had lockdown restrictions. The ministry has also allocated some funds to address the issues facing seafarers nationwide.



Port Nelson, a supporter of Mission to Seafarers Nelson since the early days have now provided seafarers free WIFI access.



Mission to Seafarers Chaplain Peter Akuhata is aiming to initiate a 'Port Welfare Committee' in compliance with an international maritime agreement which NZ is a signatory to. This Committee will oversee the wellbeing of the 3,000 plus seafarers who visit Nelson annually.



Members of this committee will have representatives from Nelson's MP's office, Maritime NZ's Nelson office, International Transport Federation Nelson office, the Nelson city Council, Port Nelson, the Nelson Harbour Master, Mission to Seafarers Nelson, NZ Merchant Navy Association, Nelson based shipping agents and Pegasus Shipping.


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