Belgian tanker shipping company Euronav has become a signatory of the ‘Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change’.

The declaration is a global call to action to address the ongoing crew change crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It focuses on concrete actions that can facilitate crew changes and keep vital global supply chains functioning.

The maritime stakeholder initiative will be officially launched during the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda Week, taking place on the week of January 25th, 2021.

The declaration was developed by the Maritime Industry Crew Change Taskforce created as an outcome of the Global Maritime Forum’s 2020 Virtual High-Level Meeting.

The taskforce is chaired by Jeremy Nixon, CEO of Ocean Networks Express, and Graham Westgarth, Chairman of V. Group, and brings together representatives of companies from across the maritime value chain as well as organizations including ICS, ITF, International Maritime Employers’ Council, the Global Maritime Forum and the World Economic Forum.

To address the crisis, the declaration defines four main actions:

  • Recognize seafarers as key workers and treat them accordingly by giving them early access to Covid-19 vaccinations
  • Implement high quality health protocols
  • Increase collaboration between ship operators and charters to facilitate crew changes
  • Ensure airline connectivity between key maritime hubs

Since the beginning of the crew change crisis Euronav has been doing many things, including deviating its ships to accommodate crew changes and has incurred extra costs to get its seafarers back home safely.

At the peak in July, Euronav had 630 people overdue for rotation, out of a total ship workforce of a little over 3,000. This number has now been cut to 77, the company said.

“The crew change crisis is the largest ever humanitarian and logistical tragedy facing the maritime sector,” Hugo De Stoop, CEO of Euronav, said.

“It is our responsibility and duty towards the seafarers, and their families, to globally address this crisis as one voice. The maritime industry has stayed under the radar too long. Crew changes are critical for all shipping sectors and movement of goods. Euronav will continue to work with all relevant authorities to highlight the immediate need to ease such restrictions on seafarers.”

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