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SEA - A Strategic Vision for CY Shipping

Phase Three: External Factors
Sustainable - Extrovert – Adaptable

Cyprus Shipping Deputy Ministry (SDM) has recently launched a consultation to co-create a long-term maritime strategy, supported by those working in or connected to the maritime sector, across all disciplines.

The third of the three campaign phases focuses on external factors within shipping, namely the issues surrounding crew changes and the ever present threat of piracy. This phase aims to highlight the various issues relating to these two challenges, and paving the way for the industry to tackle them in a constructive and effective manner, with long-term benefits.

Seafarers’ living and working conditions, crew changes and seafarers’ vaccination
The Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC 2006) was adopted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) to consolidate all the previous ILO standards, which were addressing issues relating to seafarers, into a single treaty. Now, the MLC 2006 is in force in 97 countries and provides the acceptable standards for working and living on board.

The international maritime community continues to adopt improvements in the MLC 2006 and is presently discussing a variety of related matters. This includes crew accommodation and recreation facilities, food and catering issues, medical care, health and safety protection and accident prevention, access to shore-based welfare facilities and social security.

COVID-19 has, undoubtedly, brough the social welfare of seafarers into the spotlight. The global vaccine rollout was bringing cautious optimism to shipping, as it is for the world at large. However, the impact of COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on seafarer welfare, and the disruption to cargo movement and port operations is significant. The crew change crisis has become a humanitarian issue which has taken its toll on the mental and physical wellbeing of seafarers and their shore-side colleagues alike.

The impact of these changes will continue to be felt through 2021 and beyond and it is essential for the industry to continue to prioritise this crisis and find efficient solutions now. The SDM formally proposed a practical, global approach to delivering COVID-19 vaccinations to seafarers, which was subsequently adopted as a formal resolution by the International Labour Organisation. Cyprus is now in active conversations with the International Chamber of Shipping and the International Transport Workers’ Federation to define the way forward and put this plan into action.

Piracy and armed robbery against ships
Piracy remains a world-wide problem - with attacks in West Africa, the Indian Ocean, Singapore and the Malacca straits all on the rise. The Gulf of Guinea remains the global hotspot and operating in this area continues to present a serious and persistent threat to the safety and security of crews and vessels. It is where maritime crime poses the greatest threat to commercial shipping operations of any region in the world.

Cyprus was one of the first countries to introduce a comprehensive law on Piracy. It continues to actively support all initiatives and actions undertaken in the context of the United Nations. This includes the IMO and ILO and the European Union for the development of comprehensive solutions aiming to maintain the safety and security of ships and their personnel, and to combat piracy and related crimes in hotspots around the world.

Commenting on this third and final phase of the consultation campaign, Cyprus Shipping Deputy Minister, Vassilios Demetriades, said:

“Today, there are two main external factors heavily influencing global shipping; the covid-19 pandemic and piracy. It is essential that the industry continues to prioritize seafarer welfare and supports a practical and coordinated solution to the ongoing crew change challenge. Piracy is also a persisting concern and Cyprus is strongly determined to work constructively with the industry and all the relevant stakeholders. We are eager to explore ways to proactive, collaboratively and effectively tackle both issues.”

As the COVID-19 situation matures and the blight of piracy persists, it is imperative that the welfare of seafarers remains at the heart of operational safety and security. This will be achieved through a collaborative process of discussion and impactful action, which is why the Cyprus SDM wants to hear from you – a valued member of the maritime community. We value your opinions, and believe them integral to the development of an optimal future for shipping.

To contribute to Cyprus’ strategic vision for shipping, please visit the website and submit your feedback by responding to the relevant questions.