IMO Secretary-General, Kitack Lim, has issued a statement and broadcast a video (see below) on COVID-19, stressing the essential need to maintain commerce by sea and protect seafarers’ welfare.
He said, “The spread of the coronavirus has placed the entire world in an unprecedented situation. To slow the spread of the disease and mitigate its impacts, travel is being curtailed and borders are being closed. Transport hubs are being affected. Ports are being closed and ships denied entry.”
He added that, it is crucial that the flow of commerce by sea should not be unnecessarily disrupted. At the same time, the safety of life at sea and protection of the marine environment must also remain paramount.
Moreover, Mr. Lim noted that one of the goals of the IMO, as stated in its Convention, is to ensure availability of shipping services to the commerce of the world, for the benefit of humanity.
Continued Mr Lim, “I urge all IMO Member States to bear this in mind when framing their policy decisions with regard to the coronavirus. Defeating the virus must be the first priority, but global trade, in a safe, secure and environmentally friendly manner must be able to continue, too.”
He also urged for a practical and pragmatic approach, to issues like crew changeovers, resupply, repairs, survey and certification and licensing of seafarers.
Together with the World Health Organization, IMO has been developing and issuing practical advice and guidance on a variety of technical and operational matters related to the coronavirus.
In conclusion Mr Lim said, “I have spoken many times of our “voyage together”. Never has the spirit of those words been more important than it is now.”