THE International Maritime Organization has declared that 2020’s World Maritime Theme is “Sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet”.

IMO Secretary-General, Kitack Lim, said, “A major part of IMO’s role is to ensure that shipping continues to make its contribution to the global economy without upsetting nature’s delicate balance”.

There are many sustainability initiatives that are being taken by Shipping Australia members.

SAL CEO Melwyn Noronha, said, “Under the IMO’s regulatory frame, they are developing measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce sulphur content of ships’ fuel oil, implementing ballast water management systems, reducing marine litter and improving the efficiency of ocean shipping”.

Sadly, of almost 1.2m seafarers currently at sea, around 200,000 are trapped on their ships due to COVID-19 restrictions at ports.

Maritime Industry Australia has called on IMO member states “to recognise seafarers as key workers – and to provide them with the support, assistance and travel options open to all key workers during the pandemic”.

“Maritime crews globally are the ultimate FIFO workforce. By their very nature they travel to join vessels, work on those vessels wherever they may be or go and return home once their swing has ended,” MIAL CEO Teresa Lloyd said.

“Imagine if a nurse could not leave his/her workplace for more than a month; so it is for our seafarers, many of whom have had their contracts that were due to expire during the COVID crisis extended time and time again.”

Australian governments at state and federal level need to do more to facilitate these crews changing over, Ms Lloyd said.

“In theory, most jurisdictions say seafarers can disembark and return home (or fly in and board a ship), but in practice in many states the process is not possible.”


Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said this year had tested the resilience of the international maritime sector.

“Through adversity it continues to operate robustly, ensuring essential goods such as food, fuel and medical supplies are being delivered to those in need.

“That is a credit to the many people and businesses who work in this global industry, including most importantly our seafarers and certainly those who have been at sea for extended periods of time.

“The Australian government recognises the importance of crew changes during the current COVID-19 restrictions to support the safety and welfare of seafarers and the environmentally safe operation of ships.

“We are working hard with industry and the states and territories to facilitate crew changes to keep shipping operating and our imports and exports moving,” he said.

MUA boss Paddy Crumlin. Credit: Jim Wilson and DCN

MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin said this year had demonstrated the absolutely essential work of seafarers and dockers, who are ensuring vital medical supplies and essential household goods.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic threatened global supply chains, the importance of maritime workers was thrust into the spotlight, with their hard work responsible for keeping fuel, food, and other essential goods flowing,” Mr Crumlin said.

“Without the efforts of maritime workers, Australia’s economy would have collapsed, our health system would have run critically short of equipment, households would have been unable to access essential products, and our resources and manufactured goods would not have been exported to the world,” he said.