The percentage of seafarers who have to stay onboard ship beyond their contract has decreased slightly and the percentage of seafarers who have been vaccinated has risen slightly. However, for the first time, ship managers are reporting a shortage of seafarers.
Good news: fewer over-time seafarers
Seafarers stuck onboard ship following the expiry of their contract decreased ever-so-slightly from 9.0% to 8.9% last month. The number of seafarers stuck onboard for more than 11 months has decreased from 1.3% to 1.2%.
“The Maritime Labour Convention states that the maximum continuous period a seafarer should serve on board a vessel without leave is 11 months. Thus, the September Indicator confirms the tendency from August that the situation may be stabilizing,” states the Global Maritime Forum, an international not-for-profit organisation focused on the future of international seaborne trade.
Good news: more seafarer vaccinations
The Global Maritime Forum also reports that programmes are being set up to vaccinate seafarers, especially in Europe and the United States. The Forum’s “Neptune Indicator” shows that the aggregate percentage of seafarers who have been vaccinated has risen from 15.3% in August to 21.9% in September.
“It is very encouraging to see that the number of seafarers who have been vaccinated has increased by 6.6 percentage points in the last month. But there is room for improvement. Vaccination rates remain behind large shipping nations in Europe, North America and Asia where more than 50% of the population is fully vaccinated,” says Kasper Søgaard, Managing Director, Head of Institutional Strategy and Development, Global Maritime Forum.
However, there continues to be limited access to COVID vaccines because of supply issues. This is a particular problems with getting a second dose to seafarers. There are also reports of vaccine hesitancy among seafarers.
Bad news: shortages of seafarers are starting to be reported
Ship managers are reporting that they are now facing a shortage of seafarers. Travel restrictions for Indian seafarers are being cited as a cause, as are stricter crew change requirements being put in place by governments and ports.
India is a top five supplier both of officers and ratings, according to the International Chamber of Shipping and Bimco. There are about 58,600 Indian officers and just under 59,0000 Indian ratings, giving a total of about 113,000 Indian seafarers in total. Indian nationals account for just under six percent of the total world seafaring workforce of about 1.89 million people.
The Global Maritime Forum produces the “Neptune Declaration Crew Change Indicator”, which is based on data from ten major ship managing companies.