Ship suppliers should be given 'essential worker' status to enable them to keep ships stocked with vital supplies and spare parts needed during the global coronavirus pandemic, the International Ship Suppliers & Services Association (ISSA) said.
Responding to complaints from ship supply companies that they are being prevented from delivering to ships in some ports, ISSA has written to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the World Customs Organization (WCO) asking for ship suppliers around the world to be given essential worker status.
'We are an important part of the supply chain and it is essential that we are able to bring much-needed food, medical supplies and spare parts to ships in order for world trade to continue,' ISSA president Saeed Al Malik said.
'With crew changes almost impossible throughout most of the world at this present time, some seafarers have been onboard for many months and potentially face many more months at sea before they can return to their loved ones. It is important that they receive the equipment and stores they need.'
This would enable ship suppliers to undertake their important supply tasks unhindered, ISSA said.
ISSA said its members are mindful of the need to follow WHO and individual national health guidelines when delivering supplies to ships, which can include leaving the supplies on the quayside for crew to load onboard. However, many are finding it difficult to secure the correctly signed documentation from the ship's bridge because of the distancing rules.
'Port state control authorities must ensure that all steps are taken to enable the world's ships to continue to be supplied,' Mr Al Malik said.
'Suppliers are finding it difficult to undertake their tasks in some ports around the world, especially when it comes to the smooth declaration of documentation across borders that are either closed to each other or are facing problems.'
Nautilus members who are experiencing difficulties related to the coronavirus outbreak are advised to contact their industrial organiser for assistance. In an emergency members can also contact the Nautilus 24/7 helpline.
More help and our coronavirus resource hub can be found on our Assistance page.