The Liberian Registry has become the very first ship registry to sign onto the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change. The Liberian Registry joins over 300 owners, operators, and maritime organizations in this very important worldwide call to action to end the unprecedented crew change crisis caused by COVID-19.
Chief Operating Officer of the Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry (LISCR), Alfonso Castillero, states: “I am very proud to have the Liberian Registry join as signatory to the Neptune Declaration. It is an honor for us to sign, and we pledge to continue our efforts in facilitating crew changes aboard our 4,600 vessels around the globe. COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges, and we have been fighting for the facilitation of crew changes since the early days of the pandemic, working closely with industry bodies such as ICS and ITF, port and coastal States, and with the owners and operators of Liberian flagged vessels.”
Signed by more than 500 organizations, the Neptune Declaration highlights the main actions that are required to be taken in order to resolve the crew change crisis. The daily lives and wellbeing of seafarers was highly impacted due to COVID-19 pandemic and led to a humanitarian crisis at sea.
The International Chamber of Shipping estimates that between March and August 2020 only about 25% of normal crew changes were able to take place, due to restrictions imposed by national health and immigration authorities and the suspension of the majority of international flights. “There is a growing recognition that seafarers’ tours of duty cannot continue to be extended indefinitely and that the current situation is unsustainable,” the ICS noted, stressing that “the continuing inability of ship operators to conduct crew changes has been the single greatest operational challenge confronting the global shipping industry since the Second World War.”
This Neptune Declaration outlines four main actions that are needful to address the crew change crisis: To recognize the seafarers as the key workers and provide them priority access to Covid-19 vaccines; to establish and implement the gold standard health protocols which are based on the existing best practice; to increase the collaboration between the ship operators and charterers so as to facilitate the crew changes; and to ensure the air connectivity between the key maritime hubs for seafarers.
“Seafarers have been the unsung heroes of this pandemic,” the International Maritime Organization says, “as the world relies on them to transport more than 80% of trade by volume, including vital food and medical goods, energy and raw materials, as well as manufactured goods across the globe. They have also been collateral victims of the crisis, as travel restrictions have left tens of thousands of them stranded on ships, or unable to join ships.”
The Liberian Registry has signed on to the Neptune Declaration in order to continue the fight to recognize seafarers as key-workers and give them priority access to COVID-19 vaccines; to establish and implement gold standard health protocols based on existing best practices; increase collaboration between industry stakeholders to facilitate crew changes; and to ensure air connectivity between key maritime hubs.
“I want to thank the Global Maritime Forum, and the partner organizations in signing this important declaration,” Castillero adds. “It takes courage to take this stand and fight for not only what is right for our seafarers, but for the maritime industry and world trade. There is so much more work to be done to solve this crisis, and we will continue to work day and night in support of this along with the other partner signatories of this very important declaration.”