Improvements for the seafarers

Lowest number of seafarers onboard beyond the expiry of their contracts since May, points Neptune Indicator, but impact of new variants uncertain. The crew-change Indicator is at its lowest since it has been published, pointing to an improvement of the situation and a stably increasing vaccination rate. Nonetheless, new challenges may arise with the spread of the new Omicron variant.

Good improvements in seafarer vaccination rates, eased travel restrictions and even regional decreasing infection rates are showing some light at the end of the tunnel for the crew-change crisis and confirm the trend that the crisis has been alleviating.

The latest Indicator shows that the number of seafarers onboard vessels beyond the expiry of their contract has decreased to 4.7% from 7.1% in the last month, and the number of seafarers onboard vessels for over 11 months has also decreased to 0.7% from 1.0%. So far, these are the lowest numbers recorded by the NDCCI since it was first published in May. The Neptune Indicator also reports another positive trends, with an 8.5 percentage point increase in seafarer vaccines, from 41% in November to 49.5% in December as seafarers are increasingly gaining access to vaccines.

Yet seafarer vaccinations still pose numerous challenges, as the Indicator notes. Vaccine hesitancy is still reported and supply challenges persist in certain geographies. Seafarer travel still remains challenging as there are issues with international travel vaccine recognition and approval. This has even led some seafarers to take repeated vaccinations, at an unknown health risk. Finally, access to booster vaccines is likely to become a new challenge in the coming months.

Ship managers still reported in December that crew-changes remain challenged by flight cancellations, strict regional crew-change requirements and travel bans. The data for this month’s indicator was collected before the rise of the new Omicron variant, which is likely to lead to new complications as governments strengthen travel restrictions and other corona measures.

“We are encouraged by the Indicator’s December numbers, that shine some hope that the holiday season this year will be better for seafarers. The spread of the new omicron variant could however lead to a reversal of these positive trends. It is important that governments treat seafarers as key workers and continue to allow crew changes, when the proper health protocols are respected,” says Kasper Søgaard, Managing Director, Head of Institutional Strategy and Development, Global Maritime Forum.

The Neptune Declaration Crew Change Indicator builds on aggregated data from 10 leading ship managers: Anglo-Eastern, Bernhard Schulte, Columbia Shipmanagement, Fleet Management (FLEET), OSM, Synergy Marine, Thome, V.Group, Wallem, and Wilhelmsen Ship Management, which collectively have about 90,000 seafarers currently onboard.

The Neptune Declaration Crew Change Indicator is published once a month and builds on aggregated data provided by the ship managers to the Global Maritime Forum. The data is used to calculate a weighted average of the percentage of seafarers who have been onboard vessels beyond the expiry of their contract of employment, a weighted average of the percentage of seafarers who have been onboard vessels for over 11 months, and a weighted average of the percentage of seafarers who have been vaccinated.

As top ship managers are making significant efforts – and are often better placed – in facilitating crew changes, the Neptune Declaration Crew Change Indicator cannot be used directly to calculate the full numbers of seafarers impacted by the crew change crisis. Likewise, the calculated percentage of seafarers who have been vaccinated is likely to overestimate the actual proportion of vaccinated seafarers.

This article is shared by courtesy of Global Maritime Forum. The Global Maritime Forum is an international not-for-profit organization committed to shaping the future of global seaborne trade to increase sustainable long-term economic development and human wellbeing.

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