Improving ship-shore relations in the post COVID-19 era

Questions and Answers

How are international communities dealing with the political side of this whole shift to the new normal?

The pandemic has shown the importance of cooperation at various levels: at the international level, between international organisations, governments and the industry; and at the national level, amongst relevant government agencies, industry and unions. For example, during the pandemic, Singapore worked closely with the Singapore Shipping Association, industry players, and unions to help companies and seafarers tide over the challenges posed by COVID-19. These included the Maritime Singapore Together Package which offers financial support to companies and seafarers, facilitating crew change through a “safe corridor” procedure, as well as efforts on digitalisation to help companies deal with the new normal.

How we would help our mariners to stay in the next competitive Seafarer job market context Bangladesh?

The transformations in the maritime sector such as increase digitalization and move to new zero/low carbon fuels mean that keeping up to date with seafarers training is going to be more important than ever. Take advantage of training offered and be open to e-learning new skills.

We heard also lots of matter regarding crew change. How can IMO influence and or work with Immigration and Port of respective countries?

IMO is a Member State organization and has been encouraging and urging the Member States to implement the crew change protocols which have been developed by a broad cross section of industry organizations and issued by IMO in CL.4204/add.14. (Circular Letter No.4204/Add.14 (5 May 2020) - Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Recommended framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic).
IMO’s Seafarer Crisis Action Team (established in the IMO Secretariat and working with ILO ITF, ICS and other industry NGOS), has been engaging diplomatically with individual countries regarding specific cases that have been brought to the attention of IMO.

UAE would like to express its appreciation to the Secretary-General of IMO for taking a pragmatic and practical approach through communication, collaboration and coordination with all Member States and the industry to the facilitation of shipping, port operations and crew changes during the COVID-19 pandemic because we are all in "voyage together". My question, what would be the future actions "Post-Pandamic' of IMO, in order to overcome all the challenges which were faced during this pandemic?

- In the broader context, we will have an opportunity to look ahead to build back better, bluer and greener. The pandemic has shown that shipping remains the prime mover of goods and maritime will be at the heart of the recovery.
- At the same time, it has also showcased further cooperation needs across the value chain and specifically between ports and ships, with digitalization, blockchain and further automation providing valuable technological tools to leverage in support of any necessary changes.
- IMO is best placed to be the platform to exchange best practices, as well as to formulate joint messaging on the future of shipping, both through specific resolutions and through the provision of coordinated input to various UN processes thereby raising the overall visibility of the maritime industry in the international arena.
- Next to providing a platform to exchange views on recovery needs of the industry with involvement of the whole maritime community, IMO is ready to support Member States and the industry to utilize potential financial support from International Financial Institutions and banks and to build new partnerships that support a sustainable recovery of the industry:
- IMO will continue to expand technical cooperation and capacity building projects for developing countries, in particular Small Islands Developing States. There will be a new focus on supporting COVID recovery efforts and promoting virtual training

Some ports think that they fulfill single window requirements just by sending emails. We need to have more detail requirements on what SW means in term of system, transparency, time stamp, real-time information, etc.

IMO is working to support Member States to fully implement the Facilitation Convention requirements on EDI (overview here ). IMO has issued Guidelines for setting up a Maritime Single Window (FAL.5-Circ.42) and we would encourage Member States to contact IMO for assistance. Shipmasters and others can email with any specific examples they come across. The Facilitation Committee is expected to consider making single window a mandatory requirement in future.

Do you have plans to postpone/review the deadline for the IHM requirements in view of COVID-19?

The IHM is a requirement under the Hong Kong Convention on recycling of ships. This convention has not yet entered into force globally. IMO Member Governments are invited to apply the 2015 IHM Guidelines (download resolution) as soon as possible, or latest when the Convention enters into force. So there is no change from IMO perspective, but individual governments may be applying the guidelines, so it is best to check with individual flag Administrations.

Bearing in mind the impact of the pandemic on the progress set for sustainable development, in what way can the maritime sector help the world to build back better?

- While the immediate post-COVID-19 recovery objective would be to bring back maritime operations to normality and to address the specific needs of seafarers, the long-term challenge is to make the recovery of the industry sustainable, in line with the World Maritime theme 2020, "Sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet".
- Building a better, post-pandemic sustainable maritime industry will require further international cooperation, targeted policy interventions and coherent investment today for a more resilient tomorrow.
- Recovery efforts must accelerate rather than undermine digitalization, decarbonization and the SDGs framework, they should support the acceleration of a sustainable blue economy, with sustainable work, support to seafarers, strengthened gender equality and integrating maritime sector pandemic preparedness in a coherent manner in response strategies.
- These different facets, for which IMO provides the international framework and which could be supported further by targeted investment by interested International Financial Institutions, donors and by targeted R&D, will be critical to make the industry not only more sustainable, but also more resilient.

Interim targets for 2030 and 50% cut on 2050 compared to 2018 are clearly a low bar compared to effort and impact. Are you planning to change the targets? When and how much (if there is an estimation)

IMO is currently having and preparing informal and formal virtual meetings to keep the momentum towards achieving the ambitions set out in the IMO Initial Strategy for reducing GHG emissions from ships, which was adopted in 2018. The targets still stand. We must work towards phasing out GHG emissions as soon as possible within this century and reduce total annual GHG emissions by at least 50 per cent by 2050 compared to 2008. This means individual ships slashing emissions by over 80%. The initial strategy calls for an updated strategy to be adopted in 2023. Of course we need to reschedule important IMO meetings in order to keep up the momentum.
Member Governments, the shipping and shipbuilding Industry, ports, classification Societies and R&D Institutions, remain highly committed to meeting these targets, which will need low or zero carbon ships to be built in the near future. We are and will be supporting this work, though global partnerships projects focused on capacity building and we are planning a maritime innovation forum in 2021, focusing on low carbon shipping.

Is there measures on how to manage the psychological impacts on the crew and operators in the ports due to the fear of being infected by the Covid-19.

IMO has circulated links to advice and guidance on supporting mental health and wellbeing, including:
INTERTANKO - Crew Welfare Management and Mental Wellness (Download PDF)
ISWAN - VIDEO "Managing Your Mental Health During the Covid 19 Pandemic - A guide for seafarers" on YouTube. Mental health tools are also available to download free of charge from the ISWAN website at
IMO encourages marine personnel to seek support for their mental health and well being and make use of the tools available as well as seafarer support, such as the 24 hour helpline.

Digitization : should it not be considered as a way to upgrade the whole port and shipping industy, and not a competitive advantage for single companies?

Absolutely. Digitalization is something which supports and benefits everyone. IMO has made electronic data echangeexchange mandatory under the Facilitation Convention (overview here ). IMO has issued Guidelines for setting up a Maritime Single Window (FAL.5-Circ.42) and we would encourage Member States to contact IMO for assistance. IMO is working with industry partners through the Global Industry Alliance for low carbon shipping to develop guidelines on just-in-time shipping and port call optimisation, which benefits the port, ships and the environment through reduction of emissions. (read more here Working with partners such as IAPH we see digitalization as crucial for everyone and will work to support Member States who need assistance through our technical cooperation programme (a good example is the single window project, read more here and specific global partnership projects, such as GMN and the GIA mentioned above.

We have something of a two speed system in ports with the likes of Singapore, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Hamburg etc being able to pursue the digital agenda, because of their size and potential economies of scale. Smaller ports will struggel and it may be some time before they can catch up plus some do not have the capacity to develop or are reluctant to do so, maybe risk averse?. Do you have any thoughts on this?

There is a role for IMO here through the global technical cooperation and capacity building projects which IMO is executing. IMO is working with industry partners through the Global Industry Alliance for low carbon shipping to develop guidelines on just-in-time shipping and port call optimisation, which benefits the port, ships and the environment through reduction of emissions. (read more here Working with partners such as IAPH we see digitalization as crucial for everyone and will work to support Member States who need assistance through our technical cooperation programme (a good example is the single window project, read more here ) and specific global partnership projects, such as GMN and the GIA mentioned above. IMO understands that some countries need assistance and we have a range of projects which can support them. IMO works through its Member States so we would encourage port administrators/authorities to work through their IMO focal point, which is usually in the Maritime Administration. We can help with implementation of Facilitation Convention requirements. (see IMO is also rolling out a programme to support countries to develop National Maritime Transport Policy is a statement of principles and objectives to guide decisions in the maritime transport sector with a view to achieving the maritime vision of a country and ensuring that the sector is governed in an efficient, sustainable, safe and environmentally sound manner. To assist developing countries in formulating and enhancing their NMTPs, the Secretariat, in close cooperation with the World Maritime University (WMU), developed a training package and material on the development, adoption and updating of NMTPs. (Read more here ). So we would encourage any country needing assistance to come forward to IMO as we have resources available to support capacity building.

I would kindly like to know from the speakers about the importance to push on the development on Port Community Systems?

Port Community Systems replaces face to face physical interactions with online transactions and allows necessary information to be shared seamlessly as ocean-plying ships call and undertake port clearances across multiple international ports around the world. Through such e-port clearances among port authorities, it can cut down on the necessary information ships have to provide.

For Crew Change, are ports setting up quarantine centers / accommodations for sign-on/sign-off? are there any standards for these quarantine centers?

Singapore has 2 designated holding facilities to temporarily accommodate sign off and sign on crew for up to 48 hours while they await their onward flights or ships. Singapore will also continue to facilitate crew change via chartered flights.

Has digitalisation has been accepted in Singapore ?

COVID-19 has accelerated digitalisation adoption in Singapore. For example, MPA launched the digitalPORT@SGTM last year as a one-stop portal for port related clearances. digitalPORT@SGTM has been well received by the industry. More than 600 shipping companies can tap on this platform for e-port clearance.

Many ports and terminals devalued Health and safety services, and even outsourced.
Do you think there has been a lasting change in attitude, towards an improving of work conditions for the maritime sector?

In the new normal post-Covid, many business operations, including port operations will have to adopt enhanced precautionary measures to balance operations and public health risks. In Singapore, MPA has issued 25 port marine circulars till date on the enhanced measures to take. This will allow us to minimise public health risks for our seafarers and onshore personal as they keep the ports open and goods flowing.

I have question for Ms. Ley Hoon Quah, how do you see the investment mood in port sector after seeing a drop in volume due to this pandemic? is it the right time to invest in port expansion/development? And how do you see the trade hub will shift after this pandemic, is the Port of Singapore will be the choice of many shippers to tranship their cargo?

Singapore remains a key node in the global supply chain. To better serve the needs of the global economy, Singapore will continue to work to enhance our global network, ensure operational efficiency and productivity and maintain a stable, transparent business and legal environment. We will also continue to undertake longer-term planning for sufficient capacity to cater to projected demand and ensure that our customers’ needs are served.

Shipping and ports rely on each other to survive and thrive. Would ports envisage the possibility and feasibility of investing in shipping decarbonization?

Singapore is committed to work with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and member states to achieve its 2030 and 2050 goals. Singapore is in the midst of discussions with the IMO’s to develop a concept of an IMO-led global ecosystem of international, regional and national initiatives named the “Circle of Collaboration”. Together with IMO’s support, the intent is to connect various maritime decarbonisation initiatives taking place worldwide, facilitate information exchange and enable new opportunities for cooperation, thereby advancing the progress of new technologies. These can help to progress global efforts to decarbonise shipping.