A RECENT announcement by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority that it would end temporary exemptions for vessels with crew on board longer than eleven months has been welcomed by the International Transport Workers’ Federation.

The eleven months maximum is the period stipulated by the International Labour Organisation’s Maritime Labour Convention.

ITF coordinator Fabrizio Barcellona said given the world had been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic for more than eight months, regulators and industry needed to return to respecting the rights and welfare of seafarers.

“It is unacceptable to continue to ignore the crew change humanitarian crisis and refuse seafarers the right to return home, to proper medical attention, or to relieve tired crew on ships,” Mr Barcellona said.

“Port State Controls need to get back to doing their job and upholding seafarers’ rights.”

Mr Barcellona said this was just the start of the action required need by port states to help resolve the crew change crisis.

“While we are disappointed that this unnecessary exemption will continue for another three months, we welcome the acknowledgement by Australia’s port state control that it is ‘not sustainable’ to persist with exemptions,” he said.

Mr Barcellona said Australia needed to coordinate their policy on seafarers across federal agencies and state governments.

“After eight months of the crew change crisis, governments must address the fundamental problems that lead to ships having over-contract seafarers: border restrictions, impossible quarantine rules, and a lack of international flights,” he said. 

“We welcome governments reaching out to us and others in the industry to work collaboratively to help resolve the crew change crisis. There are solutions, but governments need to adopt them.”