A new ITF report shows the importance of robust national ocean policies in reducing supply chain disruptions and promoting environmental responsibility.
As the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has released a report emphasizing the need for governments to adopt robust national maritime policies to ensure reliable supply chains and meet the challenges of the… to counteract climate change.
The study entitled “Opportunities for seafarers and national ocean governance: navigating beyond the chaos of the pandemic‘, analyzes the impact of the crisis on the global supply chain and offers practical solutions for governments to protect their citizens and the environment.
According to Chris Given, Secretary and Treasurer of the Seafarers’ International Union of Canada (SIU Canada) and co-author of the report, countries with well-established national maritime policies have fared better during the pandemic. They were able to quickly recover economically and secure essential supplies such as medicines and fuel for their citizens.
“During the pandemic, many countries have experienced shortages among consumers and businesses, including critical commodities such as medicines and fuel supplies,” Given said. “But what we’re seeing is that in other countries, especially those with robust national ocean policies, governments have been able to use well-placed policy levers to feed, fuel and get their populations on a faster path back to food.” economic and health recovery.”
The pandemic has exposed the fragility of global supply chains as shipping containers are scattered around the world and ports face unprecedented congestion. These challenges created shortages of critical goods and made consumers dependent on congested supply chains. At the same time, the pandemic stranded up to 400,000 seafarers on their ships due to travel restrictions, further exacerbating the crisis.
The report emphasizes that governments with sound national maritime policies were better equipped to weather the storm, while those without such policies faced significant economic and social risks. Countries like Australia suffered from a lack of strategic fleet planning, leaving businesses and consumers at the mercy of an unpredictable global shipping market.
David Heindel, Chair of the ITF Seafarers’ Section and President of the Seafarers International Union of North America (SIU), stressed that enacting a strong national maritime policy can act as an insurance policy to protect a country’s economic, health, safety and environmental interests. The report presents recent efforts by Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States to strengthen maritime governance in national legislation and planning.
“The outstanding performance of our domestic shipping sectors, not just in the US but elsewhere, during these crises shows that you are better prepared to care for your citizens by investing in your people, your facilities and your industry in May global headwind,” said Heindel. “Ours is a success story. But we can do more as more governments support our critical sector around the world.”
As the shipping industry moves towards rapid decarbonisation, Jacqueline Smith, ITF Maritime Coordinator, stressed the need for governments to invest in the training and reskilling of seafarers to handle the fuels and ships of the future. By 2030, up to 800,000 seafarers will need retraining or onboarding. Smith urged governments to adopt sensible national ocean policies.
“Now is the time for governments to invest in a secure future by enacting sound national ocean policies. They should be for our people but also for our planet,” Smith said.