What is the Neptune Declaration?


  • Recently, the Maritime body Maritime Union of India (MUI) urged the government to take cognisance of ”Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change” in order to formulate the Maritime India Vision 2030.

About Neptune Declaration

  • The Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change aims to promote and protect the welfare of seafarers. It was launched in response to the crew change crisis, which has resulted in around 400,000 seafarers stranded on ships because of coronavirus-related travel bans.
  • The International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) has joined more than 450 companies and organisations around the world by signing the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change in a worldwide call to action to end the unprecedented crew change crisis caused by COVID-19.

    Neptune Declaration
    Source: Humanrights at Sea
  • Launched to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos at the end of January, signatories to the Declaration are seeking to draw the world’s attention to the humanitarian issues and challenges seafarers are facing because of the restrictions implemented by Governments to control the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why are seafarers stranded?

  • Seafarers are unable to disembark and carry out crew changes due to restrictions imposed by national authorities designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Air travel disruptions and concerns over health protocols have also compounded the crisis. As a result, seafarers have been trapped at sea for extended periods, even after their period of work should have ended.

What are the risks to seafarers of being stranded at sea?

  • Being stuck at sea poses significant threats to seafarers’ physical and mental wellbeing.
  • Typically, seafarers are contracted to work between four and six months on ships, followed by a period of leave. Their work is often physically and mentally demanding, with 10-12 hour shifts seven days a week not uncommon.
  • Working at sea beyond their contracted hours can result in fatigue, which increases the risk of accidents on board, maritime incidents and environmental disasters.

How will the crew change crisis affect trade and supply chains?

  • An estimated 90 per cent of global trade is transported by ship, including food and medical supplies we all rely on. If leaders do not come together to resolve the crisis it could impact global supply chains and international trade, which depend on safe and reliable maritime transport.

How is the Neptune Declaration working to address the crisis?

  • The Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change has mapped out four key steps to resolve the crisis.
  • These include:
    • calling for seafarers to be recognised as keyworkers and given priority access to coronavirus vaccines;
    • implementing health protocols for safe crew changes;
    • increasing collaboration between ship operators and charterers to minimise the risk of COVID-19 spread on vessels;
    • ensuring that air transport continues to operate between major maritime hubs.

Source: Economic Times

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