“Panama, as the first ship registry in the world with more than 8 thousand flagged vessels, feels the responsibility of representing the interests of the seafarers, as well as the shipowners and operators, who urgently need the help and solidarity of the rest of the world, for this reason we call on all governments to act urgently and responsibly, to allow crew changes, "said the Director General of Seafarers (DGGM) of the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP), Captain Juan Maltez during the meeting called "COVID-19 and changes in maritime crew: A humanitarian, safety and economic crisis".
The Minister of Maritime Affairs, Arch. Noriel Araúz in the official act communicated that the main objective of participating was to share with the world the experiences acquired by the Republic of Panama during the last seven (7) months with respect to the crisis of crew changes, triggered by the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).
Among the various actions taken by the AMP in favor of seafarers, the following stand out:
- Extend the validity of medical and training certificates and licenses for national and foreign seafarers on board Panamanian ships.
- Support IMO's decision to designate seafarers as "Key Workers", effective 17 May 2020.
- Protocols called "Diagram of the modalities for repatriation, disembarkation and boarding of crew members" were drawn up, which through seven (7) different modalities guarantee safe crew changes, following the guidelines of IMO Circular Letter 4204 / add14 issued by IMO.
- On September 8, we officially endorsed IMO Circular Letter No. 4204 / add 29, which contemplates three (3) main points: Designate all seafarers and maritime personnel (not only nationals) within their jurisdiction as key workers providing an essential service; implement the protocols and guidelines of the series of circular letters N ° 4204 and allow safe and secure crew changes; eliminate other barriers to crew changes such as visa restrictions, flight restrictions, national travel and movement restrictions, access to medical care and exams, etc.