Tristar Group, the global integrated energy logistics company currently operating across 21 countries, held its second annual 'Safety at Sea' conference virtually on December 9. The inaugural conference was held in 2019 at the One & Only Royal Mirage in Dubai and addressed the importance of physical and mental wellbeing at sea.
The second event addressed over 1,000 attendees across the globe, with a number of officers and crew attending aboard their vessels.
Speakers from oil major Shell, global law firm Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW), Kuwait Oil Tanker Company (KOTC), Oman Shipping, Mission to Seafarers and Fleet Ship Management addressed issues that are at the top of seafarers' mind during the Covid-19 pandemic - well-being, healthcare support and legal recourse.
Eugene Mayne, founder and CEO of Tristar Group, urged the industry to draw attention to the plight of seafarers during his opening address. He referenced a report from the Norwegian Hull Club that estimates there are about 400,000 seafarers trapped at sea due to the pandemic.
"Shipping is responsible for over 80 per cent of global trade and depends on more than two million seafarers world-wide. A broader recognition of seafarers as key workers is essential to manage their health and wellbeing," Mayne said. "Travel bans, embarkation and disembarkation restrictions have severely strained working conditions in the global shipping sector. As a result, seafarers are either unable to board ships or are stranded on board extending their contracts beyond their original tours of duty, often beyond the 11-month maximum period on board. This situation has had a severe impact on the wellbeing of seafarers and other marine personnel, including affecting their right to physical and mental health, freedom of movement, and a right to family life. It also dramatically increases the risk to the security of maritime assets including potential for environmental incidents," Mayne continued.
"It is up to the maritime industry to continue to draw attention to the plight of seafarers during this pandemic and to drive a sense of urgency among policy makers to ease the hardships being faced by our ocean-going colleagues."
Dr Syed M. Ahmed, health manager UK Downstream, Mediterranean and STASCO at Shell, highlighted a study from the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) that reported the rate of increase in mental health issues among seafarers.
"In the last few years, there has been an increase in anxiety and depression among seafarers. Employees and seafarers believe that proactive changes to conditions on board are important for wellbeing. Many employers have adopted policies, however, 55 per cent of employers are yet to introduce any significant policies or practices in the last ten years," he said.
Casper Meland, CEO of Marine Benefits urged the shipping industry to protect the mental health of seafarers. "If anyone can make a difference, it's the shipping community. The seafarers are under your care, custody, and control for nine to ten months of the year. We can make a change and actually do something in a more controlled fashion than when people are typically isolated in their homes," Meland said.
The event went on to also discuss the criminalisation of seafarers. When asked why seafarers rather than ship managers are prosecuted during a maritime incident, Jim Cashman, Captain and Maritime Lawyer,
Partner at HFW, said that progress is being made in the UK.
"The prosecution of ship managers might not be happening enough for the seafarer, but it is happening increasingly in more and more jurisdictions. The law is a very conservative thing and is always slower than the speed at which society develops. It is happening in the UK, where companies and directors are being prosecuted. In the UK, there are provisions where the owners can be prosecuted. There are cases where the companies have been prosecuted," Cashman said.
The conference was a great platform to connect with seafarers around the world, giving them the necessary advice, knowledge and skillsets to support them in their current and future work.
For more information, visit
https://www.ubivent.com/register/24/tristar-safety-at-sea to watch the event replay, available till January 9, 2021.