Maritime groups urge support of seafarers caught in lockdowns

Philippines Seafarersreceivingfoodpackages

The following is text of a news release from the International Windship Association:

(LONDON) — If you are a seafarer stranded far from home what do you do? As one of the thousands of indispensable seafarers from developing countries caught in lockdowns enforced to limit the spread of COVID-19 with no way home, where do you turn for help for you and your family?

"The outbreak of COVID-19 on a global scale has brought fear and uncertainty to key workers around the world. Those in the maritime sector have particular anxieties as they are displaced from home, friends, family and the other support mechanisms available to most. It has never been more important for these seafarers to have access to help in some form," said Capt. John Lloyd, chief executive of The Nautical Institute.

For those seafarers, the Seafarers Emergency Fund (SEF), established a number of years ago by United Kingdom-registered charity the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN), can provide vital financial support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the SEF, seafarers and their families who are directly involved in sudden or unforeseen crises can access immediate, essential aid to cover expenses such as psychological counselling, medical bills, repatriation and other unexpected costs. Already, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the SEF has paid out four grants totaling $35,048, which has assisted 608 Indian and Filipino seafarers.

“Many seafarers and their families are facing hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic," said Roger Harris, ISWAN executive director. "ISWAN is providing support around the world, like delivering food packages to 550 stranded seafarers in Manila with funding from the Seafarers Emergency Fund.”

To support this vital financial lifeline, a group of maritime organizations has established a crowdfunding campaign to help these developing world seafarers and families most severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The campaign has until May 4 to reach its £25,000 ($30,700) target. You can donate by clicking here.

“This is a much-needed initiative in this time of crisis," said David Bolduc, executive director, Green Marine. "As a global industry, we have a duty to show solidarity with seafarers, the men and women who are operating ships worldwide and who really are the backbone of global trade. Please consider supporting this campaign.”

“The men and women working in shipping and the other ocean industries that make up the ocean economy are vital to all of us in this time of crisis," said Paul Holthus, founding president and CEO, World Ocean Council. "They are essential to ensuring that supply chains of food, medicine, energy and other goods keep operating. Please help support them as they are faced by the additional challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic is imposing on them.”  

As many of these developing country seafarers and their families are facing very uncertain times ahead the financial support is understandably of great importance, however there is also a message of support and hope that is being shared by supporting this campaign.

“Much of the shipping industry are supporting their seafarers, these unseen and unsung heroes but unfortunately others do slip through the gaps and there is little in the way of a safety net, the SEF and ISWAN are helping those that do find themselves in dire need, and this sends a clear message of support," said Gavin Allwright, secretary-general of the International Windship Association.

“While the shipping industry is the engine of global trade, our mariners are its heartbeat," said Carleen Lyden Walker, co-founder/executive director of the North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA). "Right now, they need our protection and help to navigate the constraints resulting from combating COVID-19. Remember, we are one global community with the common goals of health, well-being, prosperity, and providing a global service in the best possible fashion. Please join us in support of the mariner with a donation of any size.”

By Professional Mariner Staff