As the shipping industry increasingly pays attention and focuses on decarbonization, the crew change crisis is not over and vessel operations still rely heavily on thousands of dedicated sailors. Their efforts are particularly visible in congested container ports: On Sunday, 71 container ships were waiting to dock at busy terminals in Long Beach and Los Angeles, with 71 crews looking after their engines and equipment.
In a recent post on LinkedIn, Anglo-Eastern Univan CEO Bjorn Hojgaard lamented what he described as “shameful” treatment of crew members by port states.
âThe way we are treating sailors in 2021 is absolutely shameful. Since the start of the pandemic, crew services around the world have struggled to make the crew change easier against increasingly difficult odds. Sailors at home are often unable to secure a contract, possibly because they live in a country with a high COVID burden. And seafarers on board are increasingly being treated like outcasts, despite having maintained the global supply chain we call operational navigation throughout the pandemic – to the benefit of people. people and nations around the world, âHojgaard said.
âIt is not the owners and managers of ships who are difficult. They are doing everything in their power to effect crew changes in a constantly changing but increasingly impossible context, âhe added. âThe real culprits here are the ports and the nations that decide that, yes, they want the ships and their cargo, but no, they don’t allow the crew change. Not at my door! You can do it elsewhere, thank you very much!
While the COVID pandemic has exacerbated the dire experiences of seafarers, it has also highlighted long-standing systemic issues regarding the well-being of seafarers. The latest report on the Seafarer Happiness Index Mission to Seafarers paints a heartbreaking picture: The report recounts a comment from a sailor saying, âThis is not a profession for freshmen. Another said, âWe have broken sleep, broken systems, and people feel broken too. “
Importantly, the report finds that sailor happiness levels declined in the second quarter to 5.99 / 10, from 6.46 in the first quarter. (The results are obtained from an average score on 10 questions in a survey.)
Meanwhile, a new research paper by Peter Vandergeest in the journal Marine Policy finds an even darker experience for sailors in the fishing industry. âThe basis for longer-term marginalization includes the exclusion of fishing from the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC), the marginal status of fishing among global organizations concerned with seafarers, dispersed ownership of seafaring vessels. fishing versus corporate ownership concentrated in shipping, lack of unionization and frequent inaccessibility of consular assistance in fishing ports, âconcluded Vandergeest and his co-authors.
Essentially, seafarers engaged in deep-sea fishing are marginalized from seafarers in other sectors in a systemic and long-term manner. Unless efforts to improve working conditions on fishing vessels address the exclusion from the MLC, seafarers in the fishing industry will still face considerable difficulties, even after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, the authors concluded.