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Coronavirus poses major challenges for seafarers on merchant ships

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Dry Bulk,

COVID-19 has already caused the loss of thousands of human lives and the imposition by authorities of travel restrictions and lockdowns of cities, provinces and countries across the world.

Communities across most continents and economies are currently subjected to this serious threat and resulting turmoil.

During this difficult pandemic, INTERCARGO wishes to remind societies and nations that without merchant ships and seafarers, cargoes cannot be transported between continents.

Dry bulk carriers remain the workhorses of international shipping, which transports approximately 90% of world trade, serving essential needs such as food and energy: main and minor dry bulks include cereals, grain, agricultural and forest products as well as iron and other mineral ores, coal and fertilizers and several other basic goods serving infrastructure for the well-being of populations.

INTERCARGO wishes to highlight the logistical challenges with the repatriation of seafarers who completed their sea service and seek their relief and re-joining their families. The relief process is stalled as many port states have imposed local regulations, travel and quarantine restrictions due to COVID-19, despite the IMO circulars to be mindful of free access to seafarers.

While its Association is supportive of IMO’s and other stakeholders’ issued guidance, INTERCARGO urges IMO Member States and all Port States to adopt a pragmatic approach in assisting shipowners and seafarers to overcome these challenges by removing undue hinderance for seafarers to leave or join a ship in their ports.

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