Around 400,000 seafarers are currently beyond the end of their contracts and stranded at sea because they cannot be repatriated due to coronavirus travel restrictions, the UN's International Maritime Organization says.
Some have now been working at sea for more than 18 months, well beyond the 11-month limit.“Sadly, we have seen human rights of seafarers, fishers and other marine workers put in jeopardy during the pandemic,” IMO secretary general Kitack Lim said in a statement.
“This is a clear human rights issue. This is causing immense strain, fatigue and exhaustion and is unsustainable."
Hundreds of thousands of seafarers are stuck at home, unable to join ships and provide for their families, the IMO said.
American Captain Hedi Marzougui said that the extended period on board had a significant impact on his crew and himself.
“The longer you stay out there, the more fatigued you get physically. The hours start to add up, the weeks and months start to add up," he said.
"And you get very tired and you are not as sharp as you are when you are doing your normal stint," he said, adding that tiredness can lead to accidents.