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Warning of future seafarer crisis due to pandemic suffering

Photo: Marcus Hand seafarers.jpg
Maritime employers warn of a crisis brewing as seafarers quit due to Covid deprivations and young people turn away from the industry as a result of the suffering they can see.

Although seafarers are shipping’s frontline workers many countries have not recognised them as such. As result they have endured travel restrictions, quarantine, being unable to leave their vessels when contracts expire, and denial of medical care ashore since the onset of the pandemic. Not to mention the toll all these have taken on seafarers’ mental health.

Speaking at Crew Connect Global Week Capt Ahmed Belal, chairman of the International Maritime Employers Council (IMEC), warned of a crisis ahead as both current and potential future seafarers turn their backs on the industry due to the hardships endured by crew during the pandemic.

“A lot of seafarers because of this continued suffering are not returning at the same number they're signing off and coming back to the ship,” Capt Belal said. On top of this they were not encouraging their children to become seafarers, and young people knowing the suffering crew have endured in the pandemic are not enrolling to become seafarers.

“This to me is a crisis that is brewing and it’s going to hit the industry very hard,” he warned.

A comparison was drawn with the 1980’s recession when hundreds of thousands of seafarers left their jobs at sea and did not return.

“I believe we are in a similar situation where a lot of seafarers will not come back. We will be deprived a lot of young, motivated people that wanted to come to sea, but will not come,” he said.