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Tuesday, December 22, 2020 

Charterers’ 'no crew change' clauses aggravate the ongoing crew change crisis and further threaten safety of navigation, according to IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim.

Lim has pointed out that such clauses exacerbate the mental and physical fatigue among exhausted seafarers, undermine compliance with the provisions of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, as amended (MLC, 2006) and further threaten the safety of navigation

The clauses have been demanded by certain charterers, stating that no crew changes can occur whilst the charterer’s cargo is onboard – hence not allowing the ship to deviate to ports where crew changes could take place.

In a strong statement supported by the International Labour Organization (ILO), Lim called upon all charterers to refrain from requesting to include 'no crew change' clauses in charterparties, and further called upon shipowners and operators to reject them if they are demanded. 

“Resolving the crew change crisis requires the best efforts of all stakeholders.  The elimination of the use of “no crew change” clauses is just one of those efforts”, he said.

As the crew change crisis now enters its tenth month, hundreds of thousands of seafarers remain onboard ships well beyond the expiration of their seafarer employment agreements, some not being paid and all unable to be repatriated. A similar number remain unable to join ships, and as a result find themselves unable to begin their contracts and earn a living. 

“The situation continues to constitute a humanitarian crisis that threatens not only seafarers’ health and wellbeing but also the safety of navigation and the uninterrupted flow of the global supply chain. Policies or practices that prevent or inhibit safe, regular crew changes should be revised or eliminated,” said Lim.

So far, 46 IMO Member States and one Associate Member have designated seafarers as key workers. This is essential to exempt these professionals from specific Covid-related travel restrictions, allowing them to travel between their country of residence and ships, and to be repatriated at the end of their contracts.

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