Currently, there are over 700 seafarers bearing a New Zealand passport which I either stuck stranded in foreign countries due to finishing their contracts or are having no choice but to sign another contract and continue working. Some have been at sea for over a year now or longer while many other governments have made changes to allow seafarers safe return.
There is a movement growing among New Zealand seafarers in an attempt to classify seafarers as essential workers and allow seafarers to travel freely in and out of the country and have access to their own managed isolation facilities upon return.
Kevin Judkins, a retired master mariner has pushed this as hard as he can to the top tiers of the new zealand government only to be turned away. Numerous local news stories have been published and still to no avail. He has been single handedly pushing the contrary on this issue and has asked for nothing in return.
The head of the covid response plan Andrew Milne had this to say about the topic when asked about seafarers having access to their own managed isolation facilities.
“Creating a specific allocation of rooms available to New Zealand seafarers overseas is not practical, as it would be difficult to forecast numbers returning week-to-week, and this would likely result in more rooms being empty that would have been available for other returnees”
This is the kind of attitude we are facing from our government in New zealand in regards to seafarers. As a small island nation we rely heavily on our seafarers not only in its contribution to international trade but for our own local economy’s. New Zealand has a large presence in the world of international commercial fishing with vessels all over the globe operating some of the most well managed fisheries in the world. New Zealand also has a large experienced workforce working in the offshore oil and gas industry off the coast of Australia and other regions in the pacific. New Zealand seafarers also have a large presence among supply vessels and other essential shipping methods.
To disregard seafarers in such a manner as our government is currently doing it requires some serious noise to be made.
As a relatively small seafaring community we feel that we are not big enough to make the noise necessary to demand change which is why I am calling to the international community to help our cause.
Please follow our Facebook group NZ seafarers and give it a like and a share and post your experiences that have happened to yourselves and what your own governments have done or are doing to make change to bring the many men and women home who contribute so much, and make huge sacrifice for the world’s every day running.