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Breakbulk June 2021

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30 The Journal of Commerce | June 2021 Breakbulk & Project Cargo You and the ship on which you're serving may be abandoned at sea indefinitely by the vessel owner, an occurrence that is — unfortunately — much more common than we'd like to know. And finally, you may essen- tially be imprisoned within your workplace due to a pandemic for an unknown period, unable to depart, even temporarily, for any reason and unable to interact with any humans other than your fellow imprisoned crew members. Not many of us would choose to walk in the shoes of our seafarer brothers and sisters. Should we be concerned for our supply chains? Will seafarers at some point decide to take matters into their own hands through a labor stoppage? Will seafarers want to con- tinue to do the work they do serving our needs after the pandemic? Will employers be able to recruit young men and women to the seafaring profession in the future? These are all legitimate concerns. Seafarers are essential in sus- taining both the supply chains we manage and those that personally benefit us. Whatever your involve- ment with marine logistics, I urge you to join me in engaging in doing everything within your control, authority, and influence to ensure seafarer well-being and humane treatment as fellow human beings and our brothers and sisters. The Global Maritime Forum's Neptune Declaration on Seafar- er Wellbeing and Crew Change, which has been signed by more than 800 organizations and can be found at www.globalmaritime, outlines the main actions that need to be taken to resolve the crew change crisis. Please consider adding your voice to the growing pressure to address this crisis. l Dennis Mottola can be contacted via LinkedIn. COMMENTARY Dennis Motttola IT'S EASY TO take the work seafarers do for granted. They quietly serve shippers' needs and are essentially invisible to many while doing so. As long as the vessel we've chartered or booked for a parcel arrives at load and discharge ports on time and the cargo is delivered safely, we're satisfied. In that sense, we tend to think of the seafarers that crew the ships as ežectively part of the ship, and, therefore, we don't think it's our responsibility to care about them. But with the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting crew change crisis, all that has changed. Hundreds of thousands of seafarers are stranded at sea, unable to get home long past when their contracts ended due to pandemic-related restrictions. With seafarers' physical and mental well-being at risk, it's become quite evident that this also presents seri- ous risks to supply chains. And I, for one, have also come to recognize that seafarers are my responsibility to care about as fellow human beings. The industry had a taste of what a voyage interruption means to sup- ply chains with the recent ground- ing of the Ever Given in the Suez Canal. Shippers and their customers whose cargo was stuck on the Ever Given, or on other ships delayed by its grounding, were powerless to recover their cargo. The delays likely created an uncontrollable and indefi- nite gap in their supply chains. The outcome would be similar, but on a much larger scale, should seafarers be unable globally to serve due to circumstances beyond their control caused by the pandemic, or should they purposely decide to disrupt maritime shipping to bring about a resolution to the crew change crisis. For long-lead-time, one-of-a-kind, schedule-critical project cargoes, the added costs and negative schedule outcomes would be amplified significantly. And from a personal perspec- tive, think about how important seafarers' work is the next time you enjoy a banana or chunk of pineap- ple while sitting in Europe or the continental US. Think about seafar- ers when you access your personal computing device or mobile phone. Without seafarers, store shelves would be empty and electronics retailers' warehouses would be out of stock. A seafarer's job is dangerous and demanding to begin with. When adding the ežects of extreme mental and physical exhaustion resulting from extended time on the job — as caused by the crew change crisis — the prospect of marine accidents that endanger supply chains, personal safety, and the safety of the environment is magnified dramatically. Just consider the inherent danger and demands of seafaring. Not many of us would be interested in signing on to a job that ožered these "perks": You'll be away from home and your family for up to 11 months at a time, or possibly longer if your employer arbitrarily decides not to honor the terms of your employ- ment contract. You risk being unable to access healthcare for long periods of time while on the job, should you need it. You may be beaten, robbed, taken hostage, and eventually killed by pirates while working. You may not be paid or may be exploited by an employer forcing you to work beyond legal and con- tractual job limits. Essential seafarers Consider the inherent danger and demands of seafaring. Not many of us would be interested in signing on to a job that oered these "perks."

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