National Newswatch

Ottawa—Marine transportation companies have banded together to establish measures to protect workers throughout the sector from the pandemic as ships dock to unload and load cargoes.

The Chamber of Marine Commerce (CMC) worked with its ship operator members to develop the Marine Industry Trusted Partners for COVID-19 initiative “to help assure ship owners, governments and other stakeholders including the public that a mutually-agreed standard of protection, with supporting protocols, is being followed by each Partner during ship-shore interactions.”

Membership is “open to any company or organization to join that may be involved with ship-shore interactions in the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence, East Coast and Arctic – and has already attracted the participation of ship inspectors, tug operators, and Canadian pilotage authorities and received a supportive message from the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation,” CMC said.

The measures “will help to facilitate essential ship-shore interactions, which are required for safe operations, by minimizing the need for additional screening between Trusted Partners. However, it does not prevent any organization from taking further measures to protect their employees where the need arises.

“Marine shipping is recognized by governments as an essential service that is vital to keeping supply chains operating in Canada and the United States,” said CMC President and CEO Bruce Burrows. “Everyone wants to get home safely and be confident their job does not put their families and loved ones at risk. While firms are taking steps to protect their employees, not all organizations are aware of each other’s measures. This initiative opens up the channels of communication and helps reassure participating partners and the public that we’re all on the same page when it comes to COVID-19 safety.”

Under federal regulations, ship-shore interactions are currently minimized and shore leave for crews is restricted. CMC shipowner members have also collaborated and implemented an extensive set of Best Practices for protecting their own employees.

Workers, pilots and government inspectors are still required to board ships and the measures will help ensure their protection, he said. “Ship crews also need to safely interact with ports and terminals during loading and unloading, and crew changes.”

Transport Canada commended the marine industry “for taking this collaborative approach, to protect the many marine workers, including government inspectors, who are critical to ensuring the flow of goods to Canadians during this difficult time.”

Terence Bowles, President and CEO of the Seaway Management Corp. said, his organization applauds development measures “to reassure marine workers of the measures in place to protect them and their families when they need to board ships to do their jobs.  We are all in this together as an industry.”

The Laurentian Pilotage Authority said the Partners Initiative “will help protect the health of essential workers, including ship crews and pilots while ensuring the maintenance of marine shipping activities that are vital to keeping supply chains operating in Canada.”

Alex Binkley is a freelance journalist and writes for domestic and international publications about agriculture, food and transportation issues. He’s also the author of two science fiction novels with more in the works.

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