Rising Post-COVID Seafarer Abandonment Cases Alarm IMO

(Source: Dominik Luckmann, Unsplash)

The U.N.’s International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Legal Committee has reported an alarming uptick in the number of seafarer abandonment cases since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Between January 2020 and this April, the ILO (International Labor Standards on Seafarers)/IMO joint database on abandonment of seafarers recorded 111 new cases. Of these cases, 85 occurred in 2020; the balance, 26 cases, occurred in the first quarter of 2021. Only 46 of these seafarer abandonment cases have been resolved, with 27 more cases having been reported since April.

The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) reported a slightly lower number, with 53 vessels and about 850 seafarers affected in 2020. Going by the IMO’s 85-vessel count for the year, more than 1,300 seafarers were affected.

Responding to the crew change crisis, as well as the rise in abandonment cases, the IMO’s Legal Committee has established a working group to create guidelines, including a proposed outline to cover the legal framework, responsibilities and procedures for port and flag state authorities. The committee also discussed a proposal to establish a Seafarers Emergency Mutual Fund, created to support crewmembers impacted by crewmember abandonment situations.

The Herd Law Firm actively represents seafarers, both US citizens and foreign seamen sailing in US waters, who are injured, ill or mistreated from work aboard ship. If you or a loved one has been so treated, we would be pleased to discuss the matter with you, to see if we can assist.

The above is a summary of one or more news stories reviewed by the author of this article. It may contain comments or views of the author only.

This article is intended for general interest and does not constitute legal advice.


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