Commonwealth of Dominica

Updates on the IMO’s 104th Maritime Safety Committee Meeting

IMO Resolution with actions to address to the crew change crisis. Raise seafarers above their current struggle and allow for timely and necessary relief from their services at sea.

Yesterday, an IMO draft Assembly resolution “Comprehensive action to address seafarers’ challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic” was discussed during the Maritime Safety Committee. This draft Assembly resolution contains solutions that pertain to ensuring maritime safety, security and environmental protection by reducing the negative impact on seafarersʹ physical health welfare and well-being.

Approximately 2 million seafarers operate commercial vessels around the world to facilitate global maritime trade and commerce. Mariners and Seafarers are facing the risk of extreme fatigue, physical and mental health crises – the number one cause of maritime casualties that include collisions, allisions and groundings. Restrictions and delays of crew changes and repatriation, including the measures implemented by countries, brought serious operational consequences, causing this humanitarian crisis at sea.

The Commonwealth of Dominica Maritime Administration took the initiative in a proposal that all IMO Member States agree to a five-part commitment to seafarers during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to facilitate crew changes and repatriation. During the 103rd session of the Maritime Safety Committee in May 2021, the Commonwealth of Dominica Maritime Administration presented a document in this regard.

This document encouraged IMO Member States and NGO’s to commit and implement actions that address the crew change crisis:

  • Designating seafarers as ʺkey workersʺ;
  • Recognizing international documentation as evidence of this status;
  • Ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel;
  • Creation of quarantine facilities; and
  • Provision of access to medical care, including access to vaccines

These points were taken forward as a collaborative effort and an Assembly resolution was drafted, and the IMO Secretariat submitted this draft Assembly resolution to MSC104, for submission to Assembly 32 with a view of adoption in December 2021.

Tangible action is of absolute necessity to address the crew change crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and is paramount to maritime safety, security and environmental protection. The implementation of these actions will raise seafarers above their current struggle and allow for timely and necessary relief from their service at sea.

In order to achieve a harmonized approach, Dominica reached out to all of the non-Governmental international Organizations that have been granted consultative status with IMO, asking for their support. OCIMF, IFSMA, IOGP, INTERTANKO, InterManager, IOI, ICMA, IBIA and IIMA took this opportunity to honor the people they represent, and to demonstrate their support for mariners and seafarersʹ health and welfare today and into the future.

In a joint statement, the co-sponsors of this supporting document took a collaborative effort to underline and highlight the need for the urgent objectives set out in the draft Assembly resolution.

The Commonwealth of Dominica Maritime Administration feels very positive about this resolution going forward. The actions for mariners and seafarers affirm that our industry respects and acknowledges their important role in global trade and commerce on the high seas.