SHIPPING Australia has backed calls by global transport bodies for governments to help the changeover of on-signing and off-signing crews on commercial cargo vessels.

The International Air Transport Association and the International Chamber of Shipping recently issued a statement noting about 100,000 seafarers needed to be changed over from cargo vessels each month across the globe and the challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

International Air Transport Association director general and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac, noted airlines had been required to cut passenger services in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“But if governments identify airports that seafarers can use for crew changes and make appropriate adjustments to current health and immigration protocols, airlines can help keep global logistics moving,” he said.

Australia’s National Cabinet agreed on 14 April to consistent rules to ease the movement of commercial cargo crews, albeit Western Australia opted to go its own way with crews having to spend 14-days in quarantine before joining a cargo vessel. 

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Shipping Australia CEO Rod Nairn supported the calls from the ICS and the IATA.

“It is certainly good to see Australia’s National Cabinet last Thursday agreeing to adopt a uniform set of rules that allow crew changes, allow ships to berth and be worked upon on arrival without an unnecessary 14-day delay that has previously been adopted in some states and ports,” Mr Nairn said.

“It is now very important that the states follow through and make the changes that their premiers have agreed to at National Cabinet. It’s been a week so far and we haven’t seen much action on this.

“Recent advice that Western Australia has decided not to exempt interstate or international crew arrivals from a mandatory 14-day isolation period before joining their ship is very worrying and certainly not in the spirit of the National Cabinet agreement.”

IATA and ICS have noted both aviation and maritime cargo shipping companies face “common challenges” in moving crew while complying with immigration and quarantine restrictions.

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