March 24, 2020

 Joint release from Fednav and the Shipping Federation of Canada

During these challenging times, ships and seafarers have a critical role to play in keeping global trade routes open by delivering key goods, pharmaceuticals and basic supplies to countries throughout the world. Preserving the health and well-being of seafarers—and ensuring their ability to continue providing these essential services—is therefore a priority for us all. This includes allowing seafarers to go ashore when ships are at port, whether to access vital shoreside services, for crew change purposes or even to re-join their families.

As borders close to non-citizens and austere protective measures are imposed, it is important to remember that seafarers constitute a low-risk group for contracting COVID-19, as they spend most of their time at sea isolated from the global community. Nevertheless, all shipowners have preventative hygiene protocols onboard to protect the health and safety of their crews during long ocean passages, with a view to ensuring that no seafarer becomes ill while at sea.

For its part, the Canadian government has implemented strict COVID-19 protocols requiring the master to report the health of all crew members 96 hours before a ship enters Canadian waters (and anytime thereafter should there be a change in health conditions on board), and mandating the Public Health Agency to immediately step in with appropriate measures should a health issue be identified. Industry protocols and social distancing guidelines issued by the government further ensure that contact between ship crews and shoreside personnel is kept to a minimum and occurs under tightly controlled circumstances.

Seafarers are on the front lines of this crisis, as they work to deliver indispensable goods and supplies that will be crucial in responding to and eventually overcoming this global pandemic. Their health and well-being are therefore of critical interest to us all, and we strongly urge all supply chain stakeholders to do their part in supporting the ability of ships’ crews to continue doing their essential jobs as safely and effectively as possible.  

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