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Maritime labour issues and coronavirus (COVID-19) - ILO

The shipping sector carries 90 per cent of global trade and is the main artery of international supply chains. As of mid-April, the volume of global merchandise trade was falling by 13 per cent, and there are estimates of a decline of 32 per cent or more.

With 384 sailings cancelled, the first half of 2020 could see a 25 per cent reduction in shipping, with a 10 per cent annual fall in 2020.

The impact of COVID-19 on employment in the shipping sector, with its 2 million seafarers, is therefore substantial. The cruise shipping sector, with 250,000 seafarers, has been particularly badly affected, as certain countries have advised against travel by cruise ship, and major cruise companies have suspended operations.

The maritime fishing sector, which employs tens of millions of fishers, is a major supplier of food, and particularly animal protein. Many fishing vessels are unable to leave port and the demand for many seafood products is substantially reduced.

The COVID-19 crisis is affecting the personal safety and health of seafarers and fishers, their conditions of work and their ability to join and leave their vessels, with a consequent impact on their capacity to perform their key role in ensuring transport by sea, serving passengers and harvesting seafood.

ILO has published a guidance paper to address these issues. Information note on maritime labour issues and coronavirus (COVID-19) could be found at the link below