CSA president calls for more protections for seafarers at regional conference
The Caribbean Shipping Executives’ Conference returned on Monday after the pandemic forced the organiser, the Caribbean Shipping Association (CSA), to cancel its staging last May.
The regional gathering was staged virtually, a reminder that despite improving conditions in some nations, the threat of COVID-19 is still very present.
Juan Carlos Croston, president of the CSA, noted that the industry has suffered great loss in the previous year, not just in its business lines, but also its human capital, as several noted members – including stalwarts Harry Maragh, Robert Kinlocke, Nathan Dundas and Joseph Lowe – passed away.
Further, Croston took the opportunity to remind attendees that the association continues to pay keen attention to the ongoing crisis in St Vincent and the Grenadines, which is recovering from devastating eruptions by the Mt Soufriére volcano. He expressed gratitude for their assistance in the relief efforts and urged them to offer further aid, where possible.
The president shared that the pandemic has made the industry’s importance clearer to many, but “also revealed some glaring challenges”.
“This is especially with regard to our national maritime laws and regulation and the streamlining of our region’s collective approach to the requirements of the industry,” Croston said.
What’s more, he said, governments need to provide better care for seafarers, whom he referred to as the most important asset in global shipping.
“Despite the fact that shipping accounts for more than 80 per cent of world trade and that without seafarers most of the essential products, medicines and equipment would not be able to get to countries, governments have been tardy in enacting legislation and accompanying regulations to ensure that the labour rights of ships crews are protected,” said Croston.
“We commend those countries of the Caribbean and Latin America who have taken bold initiatives to protect seafarers, but we need all governments to be on board so that we can have a regional, streamlined approach. The world cannot, and should not, look away,” he said.
He continued that their well-being is of increasing importance amid the pandemic, adding that there remain thousands of “key workers” who require transfers from ships, with clear access to safe transit and repatriation home.
The conference ended with a presentation by Vivian Rambarath Parasram, head of the Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre, and a panel discussion on ‘The changing maritime energy supply chain’.
The Caribbean Shipping Executives’ Conference is the first of two conferences hosted by the CSA annually. The CSA, the voice of the Caribbean shipping industry, was established in 1971 to facilitate the development of an efficient, viable Caribbean shipping industry. Conferences hosted by the CSA provide a forum in which matters relevant to the growth and development of Caribbean shipping are discussed.