Global investors call for an end to seafarers stranded at sea due to coronavirus By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Shipping containers seen at a port in Hai Phong City

By Jonathan Saul LONDON (Reuters) – A group of leading investors on Wednesday called for an end to a crisis involving hundreds of thousands of seafarers trapped on ships for many months due to COVID-19, warning that the situation creates greater risks every day . . About 90% of global trade is transported by sea and coronavirus restrictions in many jurisdictions are affecting supply chains. In December, the UN General Assembly called on all countries to designate seafarers and other maritime personnel as key workers. The non-binding resolution came after an earlier call in June from UN chief Antonio Guterres. In a letter sent to Guterres in late December, the investment group, which represents more than $ 2 trillion in assets, said that “it was no longer just a problem for the shipping industry.” Shipping industry officials say many sailors are at breaking point and many have been at sea for more than an 11-month limit set in a maritime labor convention. This is the first time that such a group of investment firms has joined efforts to ensure seafarers do not have to exceed their maximum working limit, while calling for key worker status to speed up their transfers. from the boats even during closures. Vincent Kaufmann, executive director of the Ethos Foundation, which includes Swiss pension funds, described the situation involving some 400,000 merchant seamen as “a humanitarian tragedy as well as a significant supply chain risk for many companies.” “If nothing is done, it is only a matter of time before something disastrous happens,” Jenn-Hui Tan of Fidelity International, who leads the group of investors, told Reuters separately. “The performance of some of the companies we invest in will ultimately be tied to the safety of the cargoes handled by seafarers. Ensuring that the rights and interests of seafarers are represented helps reduce operational risks.”

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