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The Offshore Industry Group comprising IADC, IAGC, IMCA, IOGP, ISOA and the Workboat Association (details below) welcomes the endorsement by the IMO Member States of the Framework of Protocols developed by the wider Shipping Industry to facilitate safe crew change and travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The protocols include:

  • practical steps for joining and leaving ships, recognising the tightened border restrictions imposed due to the pandemic
  • the need for compliance and strict adherence with COVID-19 testing and quarantine requirements
  • measures to prevent infection on board ships
  • the need for Governments to designate seafarers as ‘key workers’, providing an essential service.

The IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) met virtually from 4 – 10 November and approved an MSC circular thereby giving government-level recognition to the industry-developed protocols.

Additionally, the Committee agreed to develop a universal, non-text logo or symbol, to promote awareness of resources dedicated to seafarers and offshore energy sector personnel and to guide them in identifying and accessing dedicated resources and processes on ship, in port and in transit to and from ships. This will be carried out in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The Industry Group recognises the initiative the IMO Member States have shown and thanks them for their support:

“We remain concerned about the mental health, safety and efficiency impacts resulting from the inability for seafarers and key workers in the offshore energy sector to travel to/from their families. They remain critical to ensure the world has access to food, medicine, energy and other supplies at this challenging time for society. We welcome the IMO endorsement and encourage governments to do their part by enabling travel possibilities at pace”.

The Industry Group looks forward to the IMO Member States’ commitments being translated into action:

“We are optimistic that this endorsement will now encourage governments to implement the Protocols in their national territories, to overcome the issues which continue to impact crew changes causing concern for all seafarers and offshore energy workers globally”.

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