Seafarers are on the frontline as the world overcomes this Covid-19 pandemic, playing an important role in maintaining the flow of vital goods, such as food, medicines, essential supplies, and energy. However, the crisis has led to difficult working conditions for seafarers, including uncertainties and difficulties about port access, re-supply, crew changeovers and repatriation.
As we celebrate the Day of the Seafarer we call for seafarers to be provided with the support, assistance and travel options which are open to all “Key Workers” during the pandemic. We thank them for their sacrifice and acknowledge the issues they face, such as spending many months away from their families, unsure as to when they will be able to return home due to quarantine measures and travel restrictions.
We endorse the view expressed by Kitack Lim, the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), who highlighted that, just like other key workers, seafarers deserve quick and decisive humanitarian action from governments everywhere.
It is the responsibility of governments to allow seafarers to return to their homes, or to travel to their ships to begin work. It is estimated that some 150,000 seafarers need to transit to or from ships each month and many thousands are now well overdue crew changes.
In keeping with the IMO’s recommendations the Ministry has taken steps to facilitate the repatriation of foreign seafarers serving on ships in Jamaica to their home country and for the controlled re-entry of seafarers who need to join ships that are in Jamaican ports, and for crew changes to take place. At the onset of the pandemic the Maritime Authority of Jamaica extended the certificates of competency held by seafarers for an additional three months, to enable seafarers to remain at sea for longer duration.
The Authority has now resumed renewal of certificates which will expire on June 30. and our team is available to provide support to any of our seafarers who may be struggling to be repatriated.
On this important day we are proud to highlight our appreciation for seafarers – our seagoing key workers – who are working on the front line to keep international trade and aid flowing during this pandemic.