At the 32nd session of the IMO Assembly (A 32) from 6 to15 December 2021, the Assembly adopted a resolution on comprehensive action to address seafarers’ challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, consolidating issues related to crew change, access to medical care, ʺkey workerʺ designation and seafarers’ prioritization for COVID-19 vaccination.
The resolution urges Member States to:
- Designate seafarers as ʺkey workersʺ in order to facilitate shore leave and safe and unhindered movement across borders, and recognize their relevant documentation for this purpose;
- Consider the implementation of the Industry recommended framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic;
- Prioritize vaccination of seafarers, as far as practicable, in their national COVID-19 vaccination programmes;
- Consider exempting seafarers from any national policy requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination as a condition for entry, taking into account that seafarers should be designated as ʺkey workersʺ and that they travel across borders frequently; and
- Provide seafarers with immediate access to medical care and facilitate medical evacuation of seafarers in need of urgent medical attention when the required medical care cannot be provided either on board or in the port of call.
The Assembly also adopted amendments to the IMO Convention to expand the size of the Council to 52 Members, and adopted a number of important resolutions, including those covering prevention and suppression of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, capacity building, fishing vessel safety and prevention of fraudulent registries and other fraudulent acts.