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EC calls on member states to designate ports to fast-track crew changes

European Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean
The European Commission (EC) has issued guidelines calling on member states to designate ports to fast-track crew changes.

With a growing crisis around the inability of the industry to carry out around 100,000 crew changes a month the EC is seeking to give clarity member states facilitating transit arrangements of seafarers and the implementation of green lanes.

“Today’s guidelines call on Member States, in coordination with the Commission, to designate ports around EU shores for fast-track crew changes, with adequate facilities for seafarers to undertake medical checks, quarantine if required by the country in question, and transport connections onward to their home country,” the EC said.

“The pandemic has already led to extension of some contracts, potentially with a negative impact on wellbeing of seafarers. In all cases such extensions should take place with the agreement of the individuals concerned.”

Under the guidance in addition to the existing Maritime Declaration of Health it is recommended that four hours before arrival in port the vessel communicates the number of people on board and any confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infections.

Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said: "Seafarers are keeping the vital channels for our economy and supply chains open, as 75% of EU trade and 30% of all goods with the EU are transported by sea. The guidelines include sanitary advice, recommendations for crew changes, disembarking, and repatriation for seafarers and passengers. I am asking the Member States to designate ports where fast-track crew changes take place and recall that cruise operators have a responsibility to their customers and employees to bring everyone safely home."

The move was welcome by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) which a day earlier had sent joint letter to G20 leaders calling on a global strategy for crew changes.

Guy Platten, secretary general of the ICS said: “We welcome the leadership provided by the European Commission in their call to EU member states to facilitate the essential movement of seafarers and marine personnel. Crew change is a massive problem for the entire shipping industry, in addition to ship operators based in Europe, and we hope that this quick response to our calls to the G20 for action globally will act as a catalyst for other nations, and that the G20, in conjunction with IMO, will quickly put in place pragmatic and coordinated arrangements to allow crew changes to take place.

“Seafarers are the unsung heroes keeping supply chains open. It is right that we support them as they quietly support all of us.”

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