On this Day of the Seafarer 2020, let us all be reminded that without seafarers, ships don’t sail, trade doesn’t flow, and the global economy stops. We have had seafarers on ships for far too long without relief because of COVID-19 travel and border restrictions, and we must change crews for the well-being and safety of these men and women that move the world’s commerce.

Much good work has been done at the international level to set guidelines, protocols, and standards to ensure crew changes can happen safely. But these efforts are not enough. Global implementation requires new government policies at a national level by all governments participating in international maritime trade.

We applaud those countries that have taken action and in so doing, have demonstrated to the world that crew changes can indeed take place safely. We urge all nations that have not yet acted to do so immediately and to use the IMO crew change protocols to adopt procedures that will allow crew to move safely across international border as they join or leave ships. Moreover, we remind all nations that seafarers are key workers and need to be designated as such.

Seafarers deserve our thanks as the global front-line workers that are vital to ensuring the flow of essential goods while the world battles COVID-19. These workers also deserve government policies that provide them with the necessary support that allows them to join or leave ships and, when needed, to transit through national territories for repatriation. We call on all governments to act now to implement these policies immediately.