IMO Secretary-General stresses vital need to maintain commerce by sea and protect seafarers’ welfare in face of coronavirus shut down.
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has issued the following statement addressing the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the shipping industry and the global supply chain. “The spread of the coronavirus has placed the entire world in an unprecedented situation. To slow the spread of the disease and mitigate its impacts, travel is being curtailed and borders are being closed. Transport hubs are being affected. Ports are being closed and ships denied entry.
In these difficult times, the ability for shipping services and seafarers to deliver vital goods, including medical supplies and foodstuffs, will be central to responding to, and eventually overcoming this pandemic.
It is, therefore, crucially important that the flow of commerce by sea should not be unnecessarily disrupted. At the same time, the safety of life at sea and protection of the marine environment must also remain paramount.
One of the goals of the IMO, as stated in its Convention, is to ensure the availability of shipping services to the commerce of the world, for the benefit of humanity. I urge all IMO Member States to bear this in mind when framing their policy decisions with regard to the coronavirus. Defeating the virus must be the first priority, but global trade, in a safe, secure and environmentally friendly manner must be able to continue, too.