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IMO SECRETARY GENERAL ISSUES PANDEMIC STATEMENT

Friday, March 20, 2020  (Comments: 1)

With shipowner organisations, ship operators and the marine industry in general looking for a coordinated official response to the coronavirus pandemic, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has issued a statement addressing its effect on the shipping industry and the global supply chain.

"The spread of the coronavirus has placed the entire world in an unprecedented situation. To slow the spread of the disease and mitigate its impacts, travel is being curtailed and borders are being closed. Transport hubs are being affected. Ports are being closed and ships denied entry.

"In these difficult times, the ability for shipping services and seafarers to deliver vital goods, including medical supplies and foodstuffs, will be central to responding to, and eventually overcoming, this pandemic.

"It is, therefore, crucially important that the flow of commerce by sea should not be unnecessarily disrupted.  At the same time, the safety of life at sea and protection of the marine environment must also remain paramount.

"One of the goals of the IMO, as stated in its Convention, is to ensure availability of shipping services to the commerce of the world, for the benefit of humanity. I urge all IMO Member States to bear this in mind when framing their policy decisions with regard to the coronavirus. Defeating the virus must be the first priority, but global trade, in a safe, secure and environmentally friendly manner must be able to continue, too.

"We must also remember the hundreds of thousands of seafarers on ships. They are, unwittingly, on the front line of this global calamity. Their professionalism ensures that the goods we all need are delivered – safely and with minimal impact on our precious environment. These are people, usually far from home and family. Their own health and welfare is as important as that of anyone else.

"Again, I urge a practical and pragmatic approach, in these unusual times, to issues like crew changeovers, resupply, repairs, survey and certification and licensing of seafarers.

"Together with our industry partners and colleagues in the World Health Organization, IMO has been developing and issuing practical advice and guidance on a variety of technical and operational matters related to the coronavirus. You can find this on our website, and we will be updating this as appropriate as the situation develops.

"I will personally be initiating a series of meetings and consultations with leaders from shipping, ports and other key related sectors so that we can all better understand the issues being faced and develop sensible, practical and unified solutions.

"I have spoken many times of our 'voyage together'. Never has the spirit of those words been more important than it is now."

Lim's address can be seen on video here.

Reader Comments (1)

It is good to see that the gravity of the situation has been recognised by IMO To reflect this, they need to adopt a pragmatic approach on the low sulphur regulations for ships equipped with scrubbers Most of the installations are recent and come with their teething issues. Makers are trying their utmost to fulfill the requirements for attendance to resolve these, however at this stage of the game, this has become supremely challenging due to the severely restrictive movement between countries Vessel owners are obviously concerned about the foreseen penalties due to continued non-compliance as a result of faulty monitoring equipment or in some extreme cases, a completely non-functional EGCS The IMO needs to take this into account and offer some flexibility in such cases

By Khushroo Bhandari on Monday, March 23, 2020

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