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‘Crew-change crisis’ eased greatly in October–global report

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THE global maritime industry, to which the Philippines supplies the biggest manpower, has seen improvements in what is called the “crew-change crisis,” as vaccination rates lead to lower infection and eased travel restrictions.

Global Maritime Forum, an international non-profit for seaborne trade, said, citing the Neptune Declaration Crew Change Indicator (NDCCI), that the number of seafarers who remain on vessels beyond the expiry of their contract has decreased to 4.7 percent from 7.1 percent in the last month.

The number of seafarers onboard vessels for over 11 months have also decreased to 0.7 percent from 1.0 percent.

These are the lowest figures recorded by the NDCCI since it was first published in May. It builds on aggregated data from 10 ship managers: Anglo-Eastern, Bernhard Schulte, Columbia Shipmanagement, Fleet Management (FLEET), OSM, Synergy Marine, Thome, V.Group, Wallem, and Wilhelmsen Ship Management, which collectively have about 90,000 seafarers currently onboard.

Based on the indicator, almost half or 49.5 percent of seafarers have also been vaccinated, according to the report. However, vaccine hesitancy is still reported and supply challenges persist in certain geographies.

“We are encouraged by the Indicator’s December numbers, that shine some hope that the holiday season this year will be better for seafarers. The spread of the new Omicron variant could, however, lead to a reversal of these positive trends. It is important that governments treat seafarers as key workers and continue to allow crew changes, when the proper health protocols are respected,” said Kasper Søgaard, Managing Director, Head of Institutional Strategy and Development, Global Maritime Forum.

The Philippines is known as the top provider of seafaring manpower across the globe, with Filipino maritime workers composing 30 percent of the global population.

Before the pandemic, there were 400,000 Filipino seafarers deployed internationally, and another 100,000 locally.

The global crew change crisis prompted the Philippines to capitalize on the problem by pitching in to address crew change hub shortages.

At the height of the pandemic, the Philippines aimed at becoming the “Crew Change Capital of the World” with the establishment of crew change hubs in Subic, Manila, Batangas, Cebu, and Davao during the pandemic.

The hubs, supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs, are considered one-stop shops (OSS) for seafarers—both Filipinos and foreigners.

The BusinessMirror sought the insights and comments of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) of the Philippines on the latest Neptune indicators report, but its officers have yet to reply as of writing time.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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