BIMCO position statement on the shipping industry’s resilience to COVID-19 disruption


BIMCO's position has been approved by the BIMCO Board of Directors.


The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that the shipping industry is vulnerable to disruption by differing actions by national authorities in relation to people’s movement in and between countries.

Seaborne trade depends not only on ships being able to call at ports but is also contingent on the ability to change crews at the end of contract periods onboard. Crew members are also dependent on the ability to travel between their home country and the port, where their ship is docked at the time of crew change. Medical assistance to injured or sick crew members in ports is another essential requirement to keep seaborne trade flowing.

Labelling seafarers as key workers is not enough. The same harmonised approach as applied to road hauling should apply to shipping with the same privileges granted to seafarers as to truck drivers. The pandemic has shown that hardly any nation in the world recognises the basic humanitarian requirements of the seafarer necessary to keep the global trade flowing during an extended period of restrictions.

The industry leverage at government level and with national health authorities is poor. Governments have not responded well to the shipping industry’s calls for urgent action.  However, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution, which calls on all governments to designate key worker status for seafarers and implement agreed crew change protocol.

Although, seaborne trade continues to flow despite the challenges, the situation needs to change.

BIMCO’s position

  • Governments need to take immediate action to ensure crew changes can be undertaken in ports under their jurisdiction.
  •  Seafarers should be granted internationally recognised privileges by convention to facilitate unhindered movement between their home and ship.
  • Seafarers should be given preferential status in the queue to receive COVID-19 vaccination.

  • Universally trusted documentation of vaccination status should be developed as a priority.

  • BIMCO strongly recommends the use of the COVID-19 Crew Change Clause for Time Charter Parties designed to give owners the liberty to deviate for crew changes in certain specific situations, namely if restrictions relating to COVID-19 prevent crew changes in ports, where the ship has been ordered to call or within the scheduled period of call.

  • Commercial parties need to take crew change obligations into consideration when negotiating Charter Party contracts.

Lars Robert Pedersen
in Copenhagen, DK

VPS Bunker Alerts

Veritas Petroleum Services (VPS) publish regular Bunker Alerts based entirely on fuel samples and have kindly permitted BIMCO’s Members to access this information.

The Bunker Alerts are not intended to be an evaluation of overall bunker quality in the port or area concerned, but usually highlight a specific parameter within the fuel which has raised a quality issue.

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