The Government of Jamaica has launched protocols to enable crew changes for vessels serving Jamaican ports. The protocols form part of the measures passed under the Disaster Risk Management Act which were announced by the prime minister last week, and comes after lobbying by members of the local shipping sector and a recommendation by the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ), which is the agency responsible for the regulation of the welfare of seafarers in Jamaica.
Each month, some 150,000 seafarers globally need to be relieved of duty or to start their rotations on vessels, in accordance with international maritime regulations for ensuring safety, crew health and welfare, and the prevention of fatigue. Due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, many ports around the world have prevented disembarkation. The result is a serious challenge for seafarers to be replaced after long tours of duty or to be repatriated via aircraft to their home countries. Trade unions, shipping associations and other representative bodies of employers, workers and maritime authorities have been lobbying for governments to implement protocols to facilitate the repatriation of crew members and their replacement on vessels.
The Shipping Association of Jamaica is one such organisation which has been lobbying the authorities for several weeks. Its president, Charles Johnston, expressed delight in hearing from the authorities that the protocols have been implemented. He stated that with Jamaica depending on shipping for over 90 per cent of finished goods and raw materials, it was vital to secure our supply chains by doing all that was necessary to maintain the welfare of sailors and crew who operate the ships that serve our ports.
As of July 1 to July 31, 2020, seafarers seeking permission to join or leave a vessel in Jamaica must apply to the MAJ. Details of the process are contained on pages 671 and 672 of the Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) (No. 9) Order, 2020 (DRM Order No. 9).
In brief, however, applications to the MAJ should be made no later than 48 hours before the intended date of entry or departure from Jamaica. The application should include (a) the name and address of the seafarer; (b) the name and port of registry of the ship; (c) the location of the ship; (d) the Seafarer’s Certificate of Competency or Certificate of Proficiency (as the case may be); and (e) the name and contact details of the agent responsible for the transport of the seafarer to or from the ship.
ACTION REQUIRED BY AGENT TRANSPORTING SEAFARER INTENDING TO LEAVE A SHIP IN JA
Where a seafarer intends to leave a vessel in Jamaica, the MAJ will, in addition to the application by the seafarer, require information from the agent who is responsible for transporting the seafarer, who must submit (a) a copy of a COVID-19 Prevention Plan and Procedures for the ship stated in the application; (b) a copy of the temperature logs for the seafarer, in respect of the 14 days immediately preceding the application; (c) a completed crew health self-declaration form; (d) a declaration signed by the master of the ship concerned, that the COVID-19 Prevention Plan and Procedures for the ship have been followed and that no seafarers have displayed any symptoms while on board; and (e) a declaration signed by the agent, that the agent will be responsible for the transportation of the seafarer from the ship to the airport and has complied with the applicable protocols issued by a medical officer (health) in relation to the safe transportation of the seafarer.
REQUIREMENTS FOR SEAFARER’S ENTRY TO JAMAICA BY AIR
As of July 1 to July 31, 2020, seafarers seeking permission to join a ship in Jamaica and to enter Jamaica via an airport shall apply to the MAJ no later than 48 hours before the date of intended entry into Jamaica. The request should include (i) the name and address of the seafarer; (ii) the name and port of entry of the ship; (iii) the location of the ship; (iv) the relevant employer letter, and crew change and travel information sheet; (v) the Seafarer’s Certificate of Competency or Certificate of Proficiency (as the case may be); (vi) a copy of the temperature logs for the seafarer, in respect of the 14 days immediately preceding the application; (vii) a completed crew health self-declaration form; (viii) the name and contact details of the agent responsible for the transport of the seafarer from the ship; and (ix) a declaration signed by the agent, that the agent will be responsible for the transportation of the seafarer to the ship and that the agent has complied with the protocols issued by a medical officer (health) in relation to the safe transportation of the seafarer from the airport to the ship; and complete through the website https://www.visitjamaica.com, the relevant application for entry.
The Maritime Authority of Jamaica is responsible for reviewing each application received, and granting approval to seafarers whose applications have met the criteria set out in the order. An approved seafarer is not required to undergo a health and risk assessment when he or she has landed in Jamaica. However, they will be required to comply with the applicable immigration requirements for persons entering the country.
SEAFARERS AS KEY WORKERS
NOTABLY, THE DRM ORDER NO. 9 LISTS SEAFARERS IN THE CATEGORY OF EXEMPTED PERSONS WHO WILL BE ABLE TO MOVE FREELY DURING CURFEW PERIODS AND OTHER COVID-19-RELATED RESTRICTIONS. REAR ADMIRAL PETER BRADY, DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE MAJ, WELCOMED THE RECOGNITION GIVEN TO SEAFARERS AS KEY WORKERS IN THE GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN ENSURING THAT CRITICAL MEDICAL SUPPLIES, FOOD, ENERGY AND OTHER GOODS ARRIVE SAFELY AT OUR PORTS DURING THE PANDEMIC.