Neptune Declaration: Shipz joins forces with global industry and human rights leaders in call to action to end seafarer crisis

Let’s be honest: we make our livings from logistics. And it would be so much easier to look the other way when it comes to certain issues; to make sure we don’t bite the hand that feeds us. 

But if COVID has taught us anything, it’s the importance of working together, of empathy and compassion, of looking out for each other, of… well, you know I was thinking it… of collaboration. So when I read about the humanitarian crisis that’s currently happening on the world’s ocean, I was heartbroken. Heartbroken for our hard-working seafarers, for our industry – and for the thought that maybe, as players in the shipping world, we weren’t doing our bit. 

Did you know that hundreds of thousands of seafarers from across the globe have been left stranded working aboard ships beyond the expiry of their initial contracts and are unable to be relieved, since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic?

Fatigue after long periods at sea has significant consequences on the physical and mental wellbeing of seafarers. Not to mention that it also increases the risk of maritime incidents and environmental disasters, and poses a threat to the integrity of maritime supply chains, which carry a whopping 90% of global trade.

And, despite significant efforts by international organizations, unions, companies and some governments to resolve this untenable crew change crisis, we are actually starting to see the situation get worse, not better, as governments bring in more travel bans in response to new strains of the COVID-19 virus. 

As I understand it, a number of key issues leave this critical situation unresolved: national authorities around the world continue to see crew changes and international travel as a COVID-19 risk; high-quality health protocols are not being consistently implemented by ship operators; and the disruption of international air travel has reduced the number of flights between traditional crew change hubs and major seafaring nations.

Jeremy Nixon, CEO of ONE, said it best: “We are witnessing a humanitarian crisis at sea. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, seafarers have kept the world supplied with food, energy and other vital goods, with no line of sight of when to go home to their families. They have become hostage of the situation and unable to disembark from their ships. Yet, we can put an end to the crew change crisis without any risk to the general public health.”

So that’s where the Neptune Declaration comes in. More than 700 (and rising!) companies and organizations recognize that they have a shared responsibility, based on their roles across the whole maritime value chain and beyond, to ensure that the crew change crisis is resolved as soon as possible. Companies from across the globe, including Shipz and Let’s Talk Supply Chain, have signed the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change that defines four main actions to facilitate crew changes and keep global supply chains functioning:

• Recognize seafarers as key workers and give them priority access to COVID-19 vaccines

• Establish and implement gold standard health protocols based on existing best practice

• Increase collaboration between ship operators and charterers to facilitate crew changes

• Ensure air connectivity between key maritime hubs for seafarers

Seafarers play a huge role in stopping the spread of COVID and keeping us all functioning by moving critical medical supplies and other essential goods to the world’s population. And their role in getting the world back up and running again is just as vital, as international trade, boosted by the rise in e-commerce, continues to grow and keep businesses thriving. 

And it would be an absolute travesty to let these crucial cogs in our global machine suffer any more than they already have. 

The Neptune Declaration is free to sign, but will make all the difference to our hard-working seafarers. So, if you haven’t already, I urge you to join Shipz, Let’s Talk Supply Chain and over 700 other industry leaders from Maersk to Shell, Unilever to BP, and become a signatory now. 

Learn more about the Neptune Declaration, see the full list of undersigning companies and organizations and become a signatory here


Shipping, Supply Chain, Logistics, Freight, Oceanfreight, Moving products, Global trade, human slavery, maritime, seafarers