Covid-19 travel restrictions threaten shipping lanes and crew

The closure of international borders, flight caps and quarantine procedures owing to Covid-19 pose a grave threat to global shipping supply chains and the welfare of seafarers, the head of Australia’s maritime safety authority has warned.

Mick Finley, chief executive of Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa), said there was an increasing risk that the global shipping industry could “grind to a halt” or serious accidents occur because of the extreme pressure on crew, some of whom have not set foot on land for 17 months.

“If we don’t deal with this problem then eventually they [seafarers] could down tools. So we have to keep on top of it and we have to keep working on it,” he told the Financial Times.

The international shipping industry is responsible for about 90 per cent of the carriage of global trade.

Since the end of June, Amsa has detained seven ships visiting Australian ports because of alleged breaches of maritime regulations and last week banned a bulk carrier, Unison Jasper, for six months. In some instances ships have been unable to leave port owing to the difficulty of replacing crew, who have asked authorities to help them to be allowed off vessels.

Restrictions at ports around the world on ships docking to change crew — an essential process within…

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