The world’s largest ship registry has given the go-ahead to keep seafarers at sea for another three months in a move that has sparked severe concern for the health of those onboard.
The Panama Ship Registry yesterday advised that seafarer contracts can be extended by a further three months with some seafarers now on course to serve a total of 17 months at sea. The extension means some ships will sail with seafarers who will have worked eight months beyond the maximum period specified under the Maritime Labour Convention.
Reacting to the news, Mark Dickinson, the general secretary of UK trade union Nautilus International, tweeted that Panamanian-flagged ships with exhausted crews will be unsafe and ought to be detained.
With strict travel restrictions in place across the globe following the outbreak of coronavirus seafarers’ employment contracts have been extended month-by-month this year with estimates that 400,000 crew are needing repatriation and cases of self-harm on the rise. The matter came to a head last week when a final deadline – agreed between employers’ groups and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) – elapsed.