New Guidance as the UK Leads the Way in Seafarer Welfare

The UK continues to lead the way in seafarer welfare during the pandemic, with new, detailed information issued to ship owners and managers to understand the long-term wellbeing impacts of COVID-19 on their crew.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching consequences on the mental health and wellbeing of seafarers. And the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has compiled the new Marine Information Notice (MIN) 656 to boost understanding and provide mitigating strategies for organisations.

It is the latest seafarer welfare initiative from the MCA and its UK Ship Register, which continues to drive forward the highest standards of shipping safety, providing services and support for shipping operators registered with the UK. The guidance draws on the recently published Wellbeing at Sea guides, which provide practical advice for the optimal care of seafarers.

Workload, social interaction and shore leave have been identified as just some of the areas where the pandemic is being felt most keenly by seafarers, according to The Mission to Seafarers’ Quarterly Happiness Index. The same survey also reported feelings of being trapped, isolated, worried and desperate to return home to their families.

Katy Ware, Director of UK Maritime Services, said: “It is important to prioritise the welfare of crews on board the ships; with the additional challenges of lockdown, their wellbeing and safety continues to be a top priority. Without seafarers, nothing moves in the world and we’ve led the way in our obligation to look after them – we’ll continue to do exactly that. The UK was the first to designate seafarers as key workers and we were the first to do mass repatriations, facilitated through our colleagues at the DfT…