Many seafarers have been stuck on board ships during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prince Rupert Port Authority has celebrated the sailors’ commitment on International Seafarer’s Day, June 25, by establishing a safe isolation space where the sailors can come ashore to relax. (Photo supplied by PRPA)

Port Authority leading the way for seafarers to have a shore-break

Mariners commitment during COVID-19 recognized on International Seafarer’s Day

Prince Rupert Port Authority is leading by example on International Seafarer’s Day, July 25, in recognizing the plight of sailors on board ships during the COVID-19 pandemic. A shore break program has been created by developing methods for crews anchored in the Prince Rupert Harbour to come on land and maintain isolation.

A safe isolation space has been established outside the Northern Terminal allowing sailors to come ashore and relax for a few hours. More than 30 sailors used the space with it being the first time in months many of the mariners had set foot on land.

The space under tent canopies, set up by PRPA Marine Operations team, provided the seafarers a barbecue grill with food, supplies, and also allowed them WI-FI access where they can connect with their families.

“According to the United Nations International Maritime Organization, some sailors have been marooned at sea for 15 months, well beyond the limit set by international conventions. The constant pressure and uncertainty have put immense strain on these essential workers, who are responsible for transporting 80 per cent of the world’s goods,” the PRPA said in a statement.

“In the months since COVID-19 restricted international travel, hundreds of thousands of merchant mariners have been stranded aboard vessels all over the world, unable to changeover crews or return to their homes.”

READ MORE: Incoming seafarers are health checked prior to off boarding

“Seafarers urgently need governments around the world to support the free movement of seafarers so that crew changes can resume. The health of seafarers must be addressed before it becomes a crisis and it is hoped that Canada takes a leadership role in facilitating dialogue globally,” Robert Lewis-Manning, president of the Chamber of Shipping, said.

The PRPA statement said that Transport Canada has implemented regulations for seafarers onboard foreign vessels, limiting shore leave to four hours for essential purposes only (personal, family or medical emergency).

This growing crisis motivated PRPA to sign the Port Authorities Roundtable Declaration on COVID-19. The declaration calls for port authorities to collaborate and share best practices in ensuring that port operations are not disrupted.

The PRPA said by signing the declaration it is showing support for the men and women who are keeping seaborne trade flowing and seeking out ways to help, while maintaining federal guidelines.

“Throughout the pandemic, seafarers have played a vital role in supporting trade for Canada but were unable to return to their homes and communities because of global restrictions on travel,” Robert Lewis-Manning, president of the Chamber of Shipping said. “The efforts of the Prince Rupert Port Authority to provide short opportunities for seafarers to have a break off their ships while adhering to public health regulations is important and appreciated.”

“The Prince Rupert Port Authority is grateful to provide some relief to the crews operating the vessels visiting our port. While the pandemic has impacted all our lives, seafarers are facing daily demands that go far beyond the normal call of duty,” Shaun Steveson, president and CEO of Prince Rupert Port Authority, said.

“It is important to consider the plight of these essential workers, who are critical to our economy and global supply chain and do what we can to support them.”

READ MORE: Prince Rupert Seafarers Mission celebrates the sailor on International Day of the Seafarer

K-J Millar | Journalist
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