United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres recently urged governments to give seafarers and other marine personnel the formal designation of “key workers.”
In a Sept. 24 message honoring World Maritime Day, Guterres said the designation would ensure “safe crew changes and implementing the protocols developed by UN agencies, as well as the International Chamber of Shipping and the International Transport Workers’ Federation, allowing stranded seafarers to be repatriated and others to join ships.”
He also praised the two million active seafarers for their sacrifice and professionalism amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Despite the unprecedented conditions brought about by the pandemic, seafarers have continued to tirelessly support the often invisible global logistics chain,” Guterres said. “Physically and mentally exhausted, away from their families and loved ones, their time at sea has now been extended far beyond the standards stipulated in international conventions, with some tours of duty now stretching more than 17 months.”
He added that tired seafarers “cannot operate indefinitely, and disruptions to international shipping would have devastating consequences.”