“On World Maritime Day, I want to raise attention to the role seafarers have been playing during the pandemic. They ensure that trade keeps flowing, our economy does not stop and that ships continue to carry food, medicines and other goods to ports throughout the EU and the world.
The pandemic has brought many challenges for seafarers, who come from all over the world. 300,000 of these essential workers remain stranded on their ships due to travel restrictions and administrative barriers. They are unable to return home and take a break after many months of uninterrupted work, even though this is their right under international law. This has serious effects on seafarers' health and the safety of shipping.
Ensuring seafarers' well-being and safe working conditions is a key priority for us. In Europe, we declared seafarers essential workers, ensured they can travel since the beginning of the pandemic and adopted guidelines for timely and safe crew changes. With support from the EU, the International Maritime Organization adopted, on 21 September, a resolution urging States to support repatriations of seafarers and give them access to medical care. For this year's World Maritime Day, I call on all States to implement the IMO resolution and swiftly lift restrictions for crew changes; I also recall the duty of shipowners to help seafarers return home to their families.”