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Recognising seafarers as key workers takes centrestage at roundtable discussion

BIMCO, Intercargo, International Chamber of Shipping and Intertanko met to debate on pressing issues confronting the maritime industry, such as recognising seafarers as key

Leaders of the Round Table of International Shipping Associations: BIMCO, Intercargo, International Chamber of Shipping and Intertanko recently affirmed the industry’s commitment to universal recognition for seafarers, the decarbonisation of shipping and addressing the piracy threat.

Seafarer recognition tops the list

Despite heightened initiatives including a petition to recognise seafarers as keyworkers, the movement remains undersubscribed. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in many countries’ implementing various precautionary measures to contain the spread, however at the expense of seafarers. Travel restrictions are the biggest catalysts for stranded vessels, reducing some to divert to alternative locations for crew change. Both shipowners and operators had to bear these costs while others remained static, choosing to save expenses.

The most pressing issue lies in extending COVID-19 vaccination to seafarers. Dimitris J. Fafalios, Intercargo’s Chairman who presided the meeting stressed: “It is time for UN Agencies, governments and global organisations to coordinate a worldwide vaccination programme for seafarers in line with the timescales recommended by the World Health Organisation. Government leaders must commit to collective action and take to task their counterparts who fail to appreciate that the welfare of seafarers is not only a humanitarian issue, but that the world’s seafarers are responsible for keeping global trade moving.”

GHG emissions

Addressing the climate emergency and reducing emissions remains a key priority for the industry. Participants of the roundtable highlighted the importance of environmental stewardship, and on controlling and reducing its GHG emissions. They also, stressed that a large-scale investment in research and development is vital for progress towards a zero-carbon industry by 2050.

Members confirmed their commitment to the industry-wide Maritime Research and Development Board’s (IMRB) initiative to accelerate the introduction of zero-emission technologies for maritime transport. Decarbonisation can only be achieved with the immediate acceleration of developing zero-carbon fuels and technologies, and the IMRB is a crucial medium for driving the progress needed to establish a zero-carbon shipping industry.


The piracy threat in the Gulf of Guinea continues to escalate. Nigeria has invested in numerous law enforcement capabilities, but it will take some time before achieving significant effects. Effective maritime law enforcement in both territorial and international waters in the region is critical. Members of the roundtable were unanimous in their agreement to continually review options and to take all necessary actions to reduce the Nigerian piracy threat.



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