International Transport Workers' Federation

300,000 Seafarers stranded at sea, banned from ports
300,000 Seafarers stranded at sea, banned from ports
Credit: Ville du Havre / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The International Transport Workers' Federation estimates that around 300,000 seafarers are currently trapped at sea, unable to leave their cargo ships or dock due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Seafarers have been om board for months, some for over a year. The staff is being forced to remain aboard to keep shipping going as shipping firms are having are a hard time find new staff even though another 300,000 seafarers are onshore and unemployed.

The ITF called the situation a "humanitarian crisis". One of the ITF's surveys found that 70% had to involuntarily extend their contract and 5% of the workers weren't paid. Crew members spoke of mental health problems, supply shortages and suicidal thoughts. Several governments promised to speed up the crew change process but haven't delivered yet. The ITF said it would support seafarer strikes.