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Shipping cannot solve crew crisis alone, says Fidelity

Fidelity International says it is wrong to see the crew change crisis as ‘a shipping problem that only shipping can fix’

The $566bn asset manager has joined calls to designate seafarers as key workers as hundreds of thousands remain trapped at sea or unable to board vessels, putting ships, their crews and cargoes at greater risk of casualties

SHIPPING cannot solve its crew-change crisis without co-operation from other industries, according to Fidelity International, which is calling on governments to grant seafarers free movement through the pandemic.

The $566bn asset manager added its voice to the chorus of businesses and organisations calling for action to solve the issue.

Jenn-Hui Tan, global head of stewardship and sustainable investing, said the company spoke out after analysing the mounting risks posed by the crisis to safety, the economy and environment. It aimed to use its leverage to bring mainstream attention to the problem.

He said it was wrong to see the crisis as “a shipping problem that only shipping can fix”.

“The fact that it has been going on so long should tell everyone that this is not within shipping’s gift to solve entirely,” he said in an interview. “The fact is that there are no real bad actors here.

“This situation has come about as a result of many different complicated factors and the solution to it requires the co-operation of a lot of different participants.”

Mr Tan said the high numbers of overworked crew increased the risks to safety and cargo.

“We have seen a pickup in reports recently about an increase in maritime accidents,” he said. “I am not yet aware that there is a causal link to overworked seafarers, but of course intuitively that’s not good for any ship’s operations.”

Some companies had paid for special charter flights to bring crew home, but companies could not be expected to bear the high costs alone. Airlines, charterers and governments had to work together to solve the crisis.

He said different groups had approached Fidelity following the article’s publication and some had proposed ideas for technology-based solutions.

Some countries had signed up to the International Maritime Organization’s 12-point plan to allow crew changes, “however we need to see that trickle down more”.

“In our view the most important thing remains the designation of the seafarers as key workers or essential workers to facilitate their safe embarkation and disembarkation from these ships,” he said.

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