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Experts split about seafarers’ recognition


While it is worth noting experts are divided, the respondents are “activists”

SAFETY4SEA’s SeaSense association with the North P&I Club, asked experts a known million-dollar question. The twist is these experts are from non-commercial entities.

More noes to be honest

Specifically, the question was “Has the pandemic led to a greater recognition by the general public of the work and value of the seafarer?” Of the 7 industry experts, more offered noes. This is a telling revelation of the division between activists. Guy Platten, from International Chamber of Shipping said: “Awareness among the general public has improved for seafarers, but they have yet to receive the same recognition.” He is nonetheless comforted in learning the World Health Organisation has finally included seafarers to be prioritised for vaccination.

Adam Parnell from CHIRP remarked, “The answer is maybe or perhaps more accurately ‘yes, but’. At the outset of the pandemic, seafarers enjoyed the spotlight because of their importance in keeping supply networks functioning, particularly those concerned with the delivery of PPE and other health supplies.” Parnell highlighted the public sympathy induced by media about the crew change crisis was short-lived.

Another concealed maybe was from Theo Xenakoudis of The Marshall Islands Registry. He concurred the media attention has thrown significant spotlight on seafarers’ contribution. Xenakoudis however stressed more can be done to protect them and raise their profile. “Media attention and public recognition are not enough. We need to see action from our global governing bodies to treat seafarers as essential workers, protecting their rights to safety, health and security, including their ability to transit on/off vessels smoothly,” he remarked.

Reluctant yeses

Mark Dickinson from Nautilus International offered a reluctant “yes”. Referencing both the pandemic and Suez Canal incident, he observed conversations are taking place and investments pumped into improving seafarers’ mental health. Dickinson concluded by emphasising the industry’s momentum and focus to ensure this does not stop.

Dr Kostas Gkhonis from INTERCARGO added, “The shipping industry’s urgent message has been very slow to reach the ears of key decision-makers outside the maritime sphere who could ease this ongoing humanitarian crisis: despite a growing number of positive exceptions.” This was with regards to the distress calls from the seafarers and related parties.

Only two loud noes came from the P&I Club and the Nautical Institute. Alvin Forster and Captain John Lloyd (respectively) concurred seafarers enjoyed minimal appreciation for keeping the economies functioning despite under poor conditions. Both appealed for more recognition of seafarers’ efforts at sea.


Crewing Online News Team
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