CROSBY-based charity, the Liverpool Seafarers Centre, has called on the UK government and shipping lines to follow the lead of New Zealand and allocate greater funding for seafarers centres.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has pledged to pursue legislation to fund seafarers centres in its ports, allowing government port fees to be used to care for seafarers.
The Crosby charity believes this approach should be followed in the UK due to the continuing Covid-19 situation, which has left about 400,000 seafarers stranded at sea due to travel restrictions.
With no end in sight, charity chief executive John Wilson believes more provision should be in place at ports to offer support to seafarers when they leave their vessels.
He has made continuous calls during the pandemic for governments to designate seafarers as key workers to allow them greater rights by removing restrictions on flights, travel and medical care, as well as implementing protocols to allow safe crew changes, echoing calls made by the International Maritime Organization.
Mr Wilson said: “We are pleased to hear of the New Zealand government turning its attention to the plight of seafarers by offering greater support when they are in ports.
“It is clear that the coronavirus pandemic is not going away quickly so we need to make sure that those seafarers that are serving on ships are provided for when they do go ashore.
“Seafarers work tirelessly to bring supplies to our shores and it is only right that they have the time and space to spend some down time outside of their duties on board. Seafarers centres like our also offer support in the form of access to Wi-Fi, money exchange and emotional support, as well as acting as a mediator between seafarers and their employers.
“We believe passionately that the UK government should be following New Zealand’s lead and we also call for shipping companies to go further to support the wellbeing of their crews.”