Transport Secretary Grant Shapps MP must provide clarity on how seafarers will be affected by Russian ships being banned from entering UK ports – a leading maritime charity has urged.
It comes as Mr Shapps announced that he had written to all UK ports requesting that they deny access to any ship which they have reason to believe is:
• Owned, controlled, chartered, or operated by any person connected with Russia
• Owned, controlled, chartered or operated by Designated Persons
• Flying the Russian flag
• Registered in Russia
However, the Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB), the umbrella charity for UK Merchant Navy and fishing fleets which provides welfare support to seafarers, fishermen and their dependents, is concerned how this will impact seafarers across the world.
Chief Executive of MNWB Stuart Rivers said:“We recognise that UK Government is using sanctions in its response to Russia’s invasion over Ukraine, but we need clarity on how these rules will affect seafarers who are on or about to board Russian ships which had planned to dock in UK ports.
“Many seafarers on these vessels won’t necessarily be Russian but from a multitude of nationalities who could face issues over access to provisions, water, medical care and repatriation.
“There are around 1.9 million seafarers across the world, and hundreds in merchant shipping have already been affected by this war. Many find themselves in limbo and we strongly urge frontline welfare providers to facilitate virtual contact for seafarers who are worried about family back home. But the sooner we have clarification from UK Government on how this ban will work in practice – to ensure seafarers are protected – the better.”
Furthermore, the Canadian government has announced it intends to ban Russian-owned or registered ships and fishing vessels in Canadian ports and internal waters.