Vaccinations suggested to be the key for this improvement
After close to two trying years and counting, the Neptune Declaration Crew Change Indicator showed some good news. The number of seafarers onboard vessels beyond their contract durations slightly decreased from 9 per cent to 8.9 per cent in August 2021.
Key to the change
The Crew Change Indicator revealed the number of seafarers onboard for over 11 months similarly slightly decreased 0.1 per cent from 1.3. After a significant deterioration of the situation since May 2021, the August and September Indicators point to a stabilisation of the situation.
What is remarkable is the statistics of the seafarers’ receiving vaccination – the combined percentage of seafarers from the vaccinated sample has risen from 15.3 per cent in August 2021 to 21.9 per cent in September 2021. In comparison, the share of the population fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in several large shipping nations in Europe, North America and Asia is at over 50 per cent. These numbers remain behind the large shipping nations.
Not out of the woods
While this improvement is something to commend, issues such as travel restrictions and stringent crew change regulations continue to obstruct crew operations. Moreover, countries are still battling vaccine supply problems, especially the second dose. No word has been said about medical compatibility which is a major contributor to seafarers’ reluctance in getting vaccinated. Fear of severe side effects is the root cause of their refusal to be vaccinated.
To date, Hong Kong has 42.5 per cent of seafarers vaccinated, Japan has 42.8 per cent, United States clocked 51.2 per cent, United Kingdom with 62 per cent, and Singapore at 74.3 per cent. Despite programmes set up in the United States and some European countries to offer vaccines to international seafarers, a population of unvaccinated seafarers by choice is growing. Putting vaccination as part of the employment terms is also deemed as a form of discrimination. Hence, for those employers suffering manpower shortage would need to re-evaluate the validity of this condition.
Crewing Online News Team
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