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Friday, July 30, 2021 

The Mission to Seafarers has published its latest Seafarers Happiness Index report for the second quarter of 2021, painting a harrowing picture of seafarer welfare with overall happiness dropping to an all-time low since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report, which is carried out with support from Wallem Group and the Standard Club, revealed that seafarers were becoming frustrated at being constantly in the same environment due to the lack of shore leave. It reflects the need for wider vaccination programmes via three core themes; the ban of shore leave in ports, the continued delay in keyworker status and, minimal movement for crew.

The absence of freedom of movement and continued extended contracts has dashed all the positive thoughts seafarers once had as boredom and irritation about many aspects of life at sea increase. One seafarer who responded to the survey mentioned having experienced one and a half years without setting foot on land. The ban of shore leave and being constantly in a ship for a prolonged period has meant that physical wellbeing is being neglected. Seafarers who had been motivated to stay active during the earlier stages of their trips expressed feelings of lethargy, apathy and physical exhaustion months into their assignments.

The maritime industry has started putting its vaccination plans into action with leading flag states and big seafaring nations leading the way. However, happiness levels are down to 5.99 out of 10.

While momentum for designating seafarers as key workers was once the topic of conversation, seafarers feel like this has been put on the backburner and they’re no longer ‘flavour of the month’.  As a result, concerns over wage rises, key worker status and the fact that seafarers have been indispensable to the world economy during the pandemic have been now brought back to the fore.

Responses from seafarers reveal a worrying trend with reports of manning agents and others lying to crew, withholding pay, underpaying, and even threatening seafarers – despite longer hours and rising workload. Some seafarers reported having to work 11-12 hours daily, compared to 8-9 hours before the pandemic.

In previous Seafarers Happiness Index reports, it was possible to see a rising tide of optimism as crews thought that either the pandemic was receding, or that vaccinations would lift the pall of the crew change crisis. The latest responses showed that if people know when they are going home, there is hope. However, if there is doubt, fear and uncertainty, then everything becomes a problem, and the pressures on board seem to be ramping up.

Andrew Wright, Secretary-General of The Mission to Seafarers said: “As vaccination programmes in many countries have progressed, seafarers have once again been left behind. This quarter’s Seafarer Happiness Index results are not only concerning but they suggest that the situation is going backwards after the progress that had been made in the last quarter. We must continue to listen to seafarers to ensure that their demands are met. After all, these men and women have been instrumental in keeping global trade afloat including the essential supplies and equipment needed to help support effective vaccination programmes. We have leant far too heavily on them in this past year and they deserve far better.”

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