World Maritime Day


Today is World Maritime Day.

On July 23rd, 2019 the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) could not have foreseen the year that was ahead as it selected the world maritime theme for 2020 as “Sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet”.  Otherwise, a more apt theme that reflected the international humanitarian, safety and economic crisis caused by COVID-19 and the restrictions on crew change would have been selected.  Perhaps “The global economy kept sustainable by 300,000 seafarers trapped at sea” or at a local level “shipowners keep the Australian economy sustainable by funding quarantine requirements as States refuse to recognise seafarers as essential workers”.  That theme might be a bit long, but you get the point.

Not that the industry isn’t committed to “Sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet”.  On January 1, the global cap on fuel sulphur content of 0.5% was imposed universally to ensure a level playing field.  The new regulations, which meant shipowners needed to switch to compliant fuels or invest in exhaust gas scrubbing  technology, have been readily adopted.  The industry is also working hard to explore energy efficiency and alternative fuel options that will enable the internationally agreed GHG emission reduction targets for the sector to be met.

And whilst this work is vitally important, at the moment we have a lack of action from governments across the globe – including Australia – resulting in a humanitarian crisis.  After six months of global effort the shipping industry has tried everything in its power to overcome this situation, but collectively very little positive change has happened.

Teresa Lloyd, MIAL CEO says:
“We have the very serious issue of crew welfare on board vessels. Apart from Queensland, no Australian jurisdiction is facilitating crew change in any meaningful way or allowing reasonable respite to crews by allowing them recreational leave ashore.  We’ve had to fight to even have them allowed to set foot on the wharf to undertake essential shipboard tasks. These are not reasonable measures for an essential service.

“The humanitarian crisis developing for crew members on the ships in our waters is of deep concern to MIAL and urgently requires resolution. This disturbing treatment of seafarers is barbaric.

“The maintenance of critical supply chain and the normal function of maritime activities to support the resources sector is an issue for all Australians.  It keeps our economy ticking and provides essential daily supplies. All states and territories have recognised this through the adopting of exemptions to their border restrictions but in their individual approach to controlling their borders, they have failed to ensure this critical workforce can go about their business without being impeded or being forcibly separated from their families after returning home from work.  And by failing to accept reasonable numbers of people into the country are effectively prohibiting international crew changes from occurring.”

Maritime Industry Australia Ltd is calling for:

  • greater recognition that if someone is ‘essential’ to work then they are ‘essential’ to return home; and;
  • increase the aviation incoming passenger cap for seafarers so that they can enter Australia and relieve crew mates that have been working for more than a year without a break; and
  • greater humanity in the treatment of crews on vessels of all types to ensure they can go home or receive appropriate medical care and clear protocols on same.

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