All ports across UAE will now resume crew change operations as per an announcement made by the Federal Transport Authority on August 2nd, 2020. All forms of maritime activities and movement of seafarers will now take place under strict obedience of health and safety imposed in UAE ports across its seven emirates.
The circular (12) 2020 aims to re-commence the shipping industry back in full swing following the successful procedures that kept the COVID-19 pandemic away. The circular and its protocols will be enforced on all ship owners, operators, agents and managers involved in providing jobs for seafarers onboard. This includes crew change activities in UAE ports and waters. The gradual rise of operations is aimed to return the industry’s performance to its pre-COVID 19 levels.
The protocols will be updated and reviewed by the authorities when in requirement of developments in the procedures.
The maritime sector contributes a great deal to UAE’s economy with over 5,500 companies working in Dubai, providing employment in numbers of 76,000 in 2019. Abu Dhabi has also reported a significant boost as a trade centre (in regional trade and logistics) with container traffic increasing by 82.4% in the first half of 2019. This has led to the growth of port facilities and building of the yacht marinas.
The new directive acknowledges and puts into effect a lot of things, an important one being recognising seafarers as essential workers in the economy, thus looking towards the continuity of cargo and supply chains, as decided at the Maritime Summit on crew changes, last month.
As per the protocols, crew members will now have to pre-register before joining or leaving work and are to watch their own health. Crew changes will only be allowed after the seafarer receives a seafarer-entry visa, valid for 96 hours and gets tested for COVID-19, mandatorily.
Seafarers movements will also be restricted in regard to ship repair and dry dock facilities to avoid exposure and contact in workshops.
The ship’s captain is to declare the absence of contagious disease on board in reference to the model by WHO’s Maritime Declaration of Health. If a crew worker is suspected of illness due to the virus, authorities are to be informed promptly following which the ship will be placed in quarantine and restricted from undergoing operations in UAE ports until cleared.
Passengers ships and cruises are prohibited from docking in UAE waters until it is to help stranded passengers, only by the approval of authorities.
Leisure boats and yachts, including foreign flag yachts, will be under strict supervision to work in and visit; 50% capacity is allowed as long as they are in line with health guidelines and are equipped to protect themselves. Visitation of foreign yachts is allowed onto UAE waters and ports if n compliance with the maritime Declaration of Health. The 24-hour passes will also be suspended except for working seafarers on board the recreational boats and ships that comply with the WHO model and have been in the country for more than 14 days.