The United Nations General Assembly has called on UN Member States to designate seafarers as key workers and implement measures to facilitate crew change.

In a resolution adopted on Tuesday, December 1, the United Nations recognised the need for an urgent response to resolve the situation of around 400,000 seafarers stranded at sea.

The UN resolution encourages governments and stakeholders to implement IMO’s crew change protocols, which it first published in May. The protocols clearly set out the responsibility of governments, shipowners, transport providers and seafarers and provide a framework to develop robust procedures.

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim, has welcomed the resolution, saying:

“Sadly, hundreds of thousands of seafarers, who are vital to maintaining supply chains, remain stranded at sea for months beyond their contracted time. This is causing immense strain, fatigue and exhaustion and is unsustainable. I hope that this call to action will result in positive momentum to resolve the crew change crisis.

“I am grateful to those countries who have already taken steps to designate seafarers as key workers and to all UN agencies and industry partners who have been working tirelessly to find ways to resolve the difficult situation.

“This is a human rights issue. Seafarers’ lives are being made impossible through the crew change difficulties and this can only have a detrimental effect on ship safety and on the supply chain, the longer the situation continues.”

Also applauding the UN resolve, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping, Guy Platten, said:

“The International Chamber of Shipping understands that 44 UN member states currently classify seafarers as key workers. While this resolution is a positive step, clearly there is much more to be done. Governments must now leverage their considerable power to persuade others to follow suit and classify their seafarers as key workers.”