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THE SEAFARERS Happiness Index has revealed “a welcome rise in optimism” for the second quarter of 2022, as solutions to crew welfare challenges emerge.

The index is an initiative of the Mission to Seafarers. The charity asks seafarers 10 key questions through an ongoing, online survey and publishes the results quarterly to gauge the levels of happiness at sea and understand the challenges crewmembers face.

In the second quarter of this year, the survey revealed an overall rating of 7.21 out of 10, up from 5.85 in the previous quarter.

“Whilst what we are seeing might not be the end of COVID issues, it is perhaps the beginning of the end,” the report said.

“People are moving more freely and there is a positive focus within the industry on finding solutions to many of the frustrations which have been aggravating seafarers for many years.”

The report highlights recently approved amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention as a source of optimism, as well as the prospect of universal connectivity.

It said timely crew changes have also had a significant impact on positivity.

“When seafarers know how long they will be on board and that they will be home on time, they can deal with the challenges faced at sea with a far better resolve and disposition,” the report said.

“A rising tide in solutions has finally begun to lift morale and the mindset on board.”

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Although the seafaring workforce is experiencing what the report describes as “a new hope”, the charity said there is no room for complacency.

“We are still hearing negatives; seafarers continue to share many experiences which are at times frustrating, and at others hugely detrimental to mental health.”

Though responses to questions addressing 10 key areas of life at sea improved across the board, some ratings are still low, most notably in relation to shore leave, which is now at 4.8 out of 10, up from 4.14 in the previous quarter.

The second-lowest rating response was in relation to satisfaction with shore-based welfare facilities, now at 6.2 out of 10, though still an improvement from 4.92 in the previous quarter.

The report notes the latest data shows there are “burgeoning signs of better things ahead” but suggests optimism should be tempered by how delicate recovery is.

“These gains can so easily be lost and, as the responses from seafarers show us, we should not and cannot rest on our laurels for a moment,” the report said.

“There is still much to be done, and despite data-driven positivity, seafarers still speak to us about their concerns and the problems they face. We cannot overlook, ignore or gloss over these just for ease of narrative.”

The report also noted Ukrainian seafarers have expressed concern about reaching the end of their contracts on board.

According to the Mission to Seafarers, crewmembers from Ukraine feel they have no option but to extend their contracts as they either have nowhere to go, or their families are now in countries that will not grant them visas.

Another concern expressed by Ukrainian seafarers is that they may be conscripted into the army if they return home.

“It is clear that Ukrainian seafarers are suffering badly, they are far from home, isolated and disconnected from their families, and dealing with the aftermath of destruction, albeit at a great distance.”

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