IMO Secretary-General, Kitack Lim, has issued a statement relating to the coronavirus pandemic, shipping and the global supply chain. “In these difficult times, the ability for shipping services and seafarers to deliver vital goods, including medical supplies and foodstuffs, will be central to responding to, and eventually overcoming, this pandemic,” he said. The Secretary-General’s comments come against growing trade disruption as the virus spreads. It is also affecting the lives of many seafarers. Crew changes are being postponed, shore leave is being cancelled, flights home are disrupted and free movement is limited.
“One of the goals of the IMO, as stated in its Convention, is to ensure availability of shipping services to the commerce of the world for the benefit of humanity,” the Secretary-General continued. We must also remember the hundreds of thousands of seafarers on ships. They are, unwittingly, on the front line of this global calamity. Their professionalism ensures that the goods we all need are delivered – safely and with minimal impact on our precious environment. These are people, usually far from home and family. Their own health and welfare is as important as that of anyone else. “Again, I urge a practical and pragmatic approach, in these unusual times, to issues like crew changeovers, resupply, repairs, survey and certification and licensing of seafarers.”