Global ship visiting network, Stella Maris, has backed an urgent call from the Vatican for all seafarers to be granted shore leave immediately.
In a message ahead of Sea Sunday on 10th July, the Vatican said that some governments and some shipping companies must no longer use the pandemic “as an excuse” for banning the crew from going ashore.
Many seafarers are still being denied shore leave now even though they have been fully vaccinated, the Vatican said.
“As long as they take the necessary precautions, seafarers have the right to put their feet on dry ground and meet people other than their colleagues on board,” said Cardinal Michael F. Czerny SJ, Prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
He said, as the situation continues to improve around the world with Covid-19, countries are opening their borders and lifting restrictions, with most people now able to move freely again.
“But not seafarers. This is a gross injustice. To add insult to injury, some seafarers are allowed to go ashore if they are the ‘correct’ nationality,” said Cardinal Czerny.
“This discrimination is as unjust as it is immoral. Everyone needs to remember that seafarers’ innate dignity as human beings must be respected,” he said, adding that all seafarers must be treated equally, without any discrimination, and be allowed to leave their ships, even if for a brief time, wherever they were in the world.
Endorsing the Vatican’s call, Stella Maris UK Chief Executive Officer Martin Foley said that seafarers are entitled to shore leave, as laid out by the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006.
“We are living in the midst of a pandemic, and some ship captains are reluctant to grant shore leave.to their crew. In Stella Maris UK’s experience, what frustrates our chaplains and ship visitors is the inconsistency with which leave is allowed or not. We have come across ships in which officers are granted shore leave, yet ratings are not.
“Shore leave is so important to the psychological wellbeing of seafarers. Stella Maris UK is collating instances of seafarers being denied shore leave so we can bring these to those who have the authority to investigate it,” said Martin.
For more information on Stella Maris, visit www.stellamaris.org.uk and to support its work with seafarers and fishers, visit www.stellamaris.org.uk/donate