Manila - The Philippines fully supports the recognition of Filipino seafarers as “key workers” ensuring that ship crew changes can take place safely amid COVID-19 pandemic. This was in response to the statement of International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General Kitack Lim urging all the Member States to recognize all seafarers as “key workers” by removing any barriers to documentation and lifting travel restrictions to keep shipping and supply chains open amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This was approved during the 275th Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) Board meeting, which issued Board Resolution No. 2020-04-04 last 23 April 2020.
Said board resolution was signed by Assistant Secretary for Maritime Lino Dabi, MARINA Administrator Vice Admiral Robert A Empedrad AFP (Ret), together with other board members from the MARINA, As the Filipino seafarers are recognized as key workers alongside the essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the MARINA recommends the smooth processing of the Filipino seafarers’ documentation, repatriation, and receipt of necessary assistance from the Philippine government.
Meanwhile, referring to the issue of crew changes, IMO expressed that professional seafarers and marine personnel should be granted any necessary and appropriate exemptions from national travel or movement restrictions to allow them to join or leave ships and that governments should permit professional seafarers and marine personnel to disembark ships in port and transit through their territory to allow crews to be changed and seafarers to be repatriated.With this, the MARINA, together with other concerned agencies, is currently working on the protocols or procedures on the crew changes for Filipino seafarers in foreign-registered or Philippine-registered vessels docked in international ports or ports under the jurisdiction of the Philippines amidst the various safety measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 disease.