Manila – The Philippines, the world’s top crewing hub, opened the first “green lane” for seafarers in Asia to finally allow the free movement of seafarers and personnel across borders. The joint circular for the Philippine Green Lane was signed Thursday by senior government officials in Manila.
The Joint Circular, which takes effect upon signing, is created by the Philippine government to ensure that seafarers are accorded speedy and safe travel, subject to health protocols mandated by the Philippine government, including safe and swift disembarkation and crew change during the COVID-19 pandemic. This also intends to prevent the spread of COVID-19 for both Filipino and foreign seafarers whether inbound, outbound or transition during crew change or repatriation.
Furthermore, the Joint Circular will facilitate the creation of controlled travel corridors to open the Philippines for people-to-people and economic exchange and stimulate the country’s economy amidst its ongoing bout against the pandemic.
Emphasizing the need for ships to be given fresh crew to keep the international maritime trade moving, Secretary Locsin said: “We need to address the situation of the world’s seafarers without whom there would be no shipping and who ensure the maintenance of global supply chains.”
« With these guidelines, we are answering the call of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the maritime industries, to put in place a framework for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. And we are doing more, » Secretary Locsin added.
The joint circular serves as a guideline and sets process flows for seafarers, licensed manning agencies, shipping companies, airlines and other entities involved in facilitating crew change and repatriation of mariners during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, a 12-step set of protocols for crew change drawn up by the industry and published by the IMO in early May hasn’t been adopted by most governments and most have yet to recognize seafarers as key workers.
Regarding the very preocuping issue of crew change around the world, the UK government has announced it will host the first international summit on the impact of COVID-19 on crew changes on July 9, bringing together UN, political and business leaders from across the globe.