Shining a light on shipping’s importance

Sea blindness and a lack of understanding, and a lack of awareness of the maritime sector in its broadest sense is still here today

by Alex Wood

Maritime social media has been awash with the Baltic and International Maritime Council’s [BIMCO] fantastic filmmaking.

Their recent clip, entitled ‘ships make the world go’, shone a light on the world of shipping and the crucial role it plays in global commerce.

The two-minute snapshot was put together by UK-based broadcaster ITN and David Loosley, secretary general and CEO of BIMCO.

Loosley explained that wider public knowledge of shipping’s importance to the global economy – particularly during pandemic – is still an issue. 

“Sea blindness and a lack of understanding, and a lack of awareness of the maritime sector in its broadest sense is still here today,” he said.

“Of course, the other thing that has brought this into sharp relief is the Covid crew change crisis, and what the importance of the maritime sector actually is.”

Shipping has been helping the fight against coronavirus as cargo vessels laden with personal protective equipment [PPE] arrive in ports.

But keeping hard-working seafarers mentally and physically healthy is a concern. 

Thousands of staff are still unable to leave vessels or are staying significantly beyond their normal tours of duty.

The role played by seafarers in these unprecedented times cannot be underestimated.

A host of industry big hitters have now signed the ‘Neptune Declaration’ on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change.

“Unified, prompt action from governments and other key stakeholders is needed to protect the lives and livelihoods of the 1.6 million seafaring men and women who serve us all across the seas, and who continue to face extreme risk to their safety and earnings,” explained Margi Van Gogh, the World Economic Forum [WEF] head of supply chain and transport.

“By granting stranded seafarers key worker status, and by prioritising vaccine allocation for transport crew, we can prevent a deepening humanitarian and economic crisis.”

The declaration has urged policy makers to make four key changes.

•             Recognise seafarers as key workers and give them priority access to Covid-19 vaccines

•             Establish and implement gold standard health protocols based on existing best practice

•             Increase collaboration between ship operators and charterers to facilitate crew changes

•             Ensure air connectivity between key maritime hubs for seafarers

Cutting-edge technology will be needed to battle coronavirus – and it’s also required for maritime industries to evolve.

Courtesy: Marine Traffic

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