To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 pandemic on trends in the levels of seafarers' hours of work and rest; and what steps he is taking at (a) domestic and (b) international level to help tackle seafarer fatigue in the shipping industry.
22 February 2021
There have been no formal assessments of the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on trends in the levels of seafarers' hours of work and rest. The Department of Transport is aware of the pressures that many seafarers are under, as an effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is evidence, including from the Seafarers’ Happiness Index, compiled by The Mission to Seafarers, that this is resulting in increased levels of stress and fatigue.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) requires shipowners to report significant extensions to seafarer employment agreements for seafarers on UK ships and assesses the mitigating measures put in place, including increased hours of rest. MCA surveyors and inspectors continue to carry out flag State surveys and port State control inspections where the risk of COVID-19 transmission permits, including checking for compliance with minimum hours of rest.
The UK led the way internationally in designating seafarers as key workers. This helped to facilitate repatriation and ensure access ashore for their wellbeing where compatible with local restrictions. The UK has also supported international initiatives such as the United Nations General Assembly Resolution on International cooperation to address challenges faced by seafarers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic to support global supply chains which was adopted on 1 December 2020. The UK has also supported the International Maritime Organization’s adoption of the industry protocols for safe crew changes.