The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is encouraging ships around the world to sound their horns when in port at 12:00 p.m. local time on July 8, 2020, as part of the ongoing efforts to call attention to need to actions to facilitate crew changes. The ICS’s “sound your horn” campaign is set for the day before the U.K. will host an international summit bringing together U.N., political, and business leaders to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on seafarers.
Led by U.K. Maritime Minister Kelly Tolhurst, the summit will take place virtually focusing on the impact of the pandemic on the global shipping industry, and what governments and industry must do to protect the welfare of crew workers around the world. IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim will participate in the event highlighting the humanitarian need to safeguard workers across the seas and states’ duties to repatriate workers swiftly.
“July 8 is a perfect moment to remind those politicians who are meeting to consider the impact of COVID-19 to classify these unsung heroes of global trade as key workers and to instigate seafarer air-bridges to enable safe travel,” said Guy Platten, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping. “Globally there are now 400,000 seafarers who are either stranded at sea and have overrun their contracts or are at shore waiting to start their tours of duty.”
The ICS says that its efforts are designed to highlight that seafarers are still not yet classified as key workers in many countries, meaning they are unable to embark or disembark ships due to national travel restrictions. According to the ICS, 200,000 workers have overrun their contracts and are currently stranded on ships while another 200,000 are waiting on shore unable to reach their ships to begin their jobs.
“The solutions do not need money or complicated negotiations,” added Platten. “Governments must now implement these protocols. If bureaucracy continues to get in the way, what has already become a humanitarian crisis at sea, and what is fast becoming an economic one, will lead to severe consequences for an already overstretched global economy. The time for political leadership is now.”
The current effort builds on a previous call from the ICS and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) that asked ships around the world to sound their horns on May 1. Ships at anchorages and wharves from Singapore to Cuxhaven to New York answered the call, with mariners, port officials and bystanders recording the moment on social media.
The ICS hopes to again capture global attention and will continue to do so until accommodations are made to address the humanitarian needs of the seafarer.
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