BIMCO, ICS and other industry partners have teamed up and presented the IMO with a list of recommendations for governments and relevant national authorities on the facilitation of maritime trade during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The paramount importance of keeping the supply chain running cannot be understated. BIMCO strongly encourages flag states and port states to make use of the recommendations to ensure ships and their crews can continue to serve the needs of nation states,” says Angus Frew, BIMCO Secretary General and CEO.
The recommendations, now issued to all IMO member states via an IMO Circular Letter, address: access to berths in ports, measures to facilitate crew changes in ports, measures to facilitate port operations, and measures to ensure health protection in ports, among other issues.
The COVID-19 outbreak, which started in January, has spiralled to pandemic proportions. The continued spread of the virus has caused governments across the world to impose severe precautionary restrictions such as declaring general State of Emergency, lockdown and closing borders.
These measures have resulted in additional limitation of cross border mobility and often obstructions to the essential flow of international trade. Meanwhile, the merchant fleet kept sailing. Closed borders and restrictions to foreigners have made it difficult to perform scheduled crew change, conduct survey or repair essential onboard equipment.
As a result of these complications, classifications societies are looking into guidance on remote surveying to keep the ships sailing. Furthermore, various flag states are issuing guiding notes to the industry on flexibility to labour contracts and pragmatic extension to expired certificates.