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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Government has declared seafarers as 'key workers' to fulfil international obligation in line with the resolution of International Maritime Organization (IMO), official sources told Business Recorder.

The Maritime Affairs Division recently apprised the Cabinet that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, forwarded a circular letter issued by IMO's and IMO urging member countries to designate seafarers as 'key workers' providing an essential service, in order to facilitate safe and unhindered movement for embarking or disembarking a vessel and consider legal possibilities for accepting internationally recognized documentation carried by seafarers as evidence of their status as 'key workers', and for the purpose of their travel and movement of crew change.

Pakistan was a candidate for IMO Council election for category 'C' for the Term 2022-23, to be held in December 2021. Accordingly, implementation of IMO Protocols Council was necessary and that other IMO members' states including Asian countries i.e., Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Myanmar, Philippines etc. had already declared the seafarers as 'key workers' under their national laws.

There were about 25,000 trained active Pakistani Seafarers registered with the Government Shipping Office, an Executive Department under MoMA. These seafarers were frontline maritime personnel, who played a pivotal role in the economic activity of Pakistan. The entire import and export of commodities including food, medical, supplies and other common goods were dependent on transportation through sea. Seafarers stood as pillars for economic and commercial activities across the globe.

Seafarers had endured the most painful times during COVID-19 pandemic; in-spite of that they remained dutiful and the global shipping continued during these testing times.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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