Prince Rupert Port Authority Provides Relief for Ships’ Crews


PRINCE RUPERT, BRITISH COLUMBIA – On this International Day of the Seafarer, the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) extends its gratitude to the world’s seafarers and acknowledges the critical role they play in global trade, especially during this unprecedented pandemic. 

In the months since COVID-19 restricted international travel, hundreds of thousands of merchant mariners have been stranded aboard vessels all over the world, unable to changeover crews or return to their homes. According to the United Nations International Maritime Organization, some sailors have been marooned at sea for 15 months, well beyond the limit set by international conventions. The constant pressure and uncertainty have put immense strain on these essential workers, who are responsible for transporting 80 percent of the world’s goods. 

This growing crisis motivated PRPA to sign the Port Authorities Roundtable Declaration on COVID-19, to show its support for the men and women who are keeping seaborne trade flowing and seek out ways to help while maintaining federal guidelines. Transport Canada has implemented regulations for seafarers onboard foreign vessels, limiting shore leave to four hours for essential purposes only (personal, family or medical emergency). Intent on providing direct help, particularly for those contributing to the success of the Prince Rupert Gateway, PRPA’s marine operations team has recently coordinated a way for seafarers to leave the confines of their ship for a well-earned rest, while complying with Transport Canada rules. 

PRPA has developed a safe method to offer breaks to crew aboard the ships at anchor in Prince Rupert Harbour, allowing them to come ashore and maintain isolation. Seafarers are given full access to a secured space outside Northland Terminal, where PRPA staff set up tents, a grill, food and other supplies for them to use. So far, more than 30 seafarers have taken part in the shore break program, and have spent several hours relaxing, eating and accessing wifi to connect with their families and loved ones before being tendered back to their vessel. For many of these mariners, it was their first time on dry land in several months.  

“The Prince Rupert Port Authority is grateful to provide some relief to the crews operating the vessels visiting our Port. While the pandemic has impacted all our lives, seafarers are facing daily demands that go far beyond the normal call of duty,” said Shaun Steveson, President and CEO of Prince Rupert Port Authority. “It is important to consider the plight of these essential workers, who are critical to our economy and global supply chain and do what we can to support them.” 

“Throughout the pandemic, seafarers have played a vital role in supporting trade for Canada but were unable to return to their homes and communities because of global restrictions on travel,” said Robert Lewis-Manning, Chamber of Shipping President. “The efforts of the Prince Rupert Port Authority to provide short opportunities for seafarers to have a break off their ships while adhering to public health regulations is important and appreciated. Seafarers urgently need governments around the world to support the free movement of seafarers so that crew changes can resume. The health of seafarers must be addressed before it becomes a crisis and it is hoped that Canada takes a leadership role in facilitating dialogue globally.” 



The Prince Rupert Port Authority manages the Port of Prince Rupert, Canada’s northernmost trade gateway on the west coast. The Port of Prince Rupert anchors one of the fastest and most reliable supply chains between North America and Asia, providing vital infrastructure to support shippers and industries as they move their goods and resources to market. The port handles approximately $50 billion in trade value per year and supports an estimated 3600 direct supply-chain jobs in northern BC, $310 million in annual wages, and $125.5 million in annual government revenue. In 2018, a record 26.7 million tonnes of cargo moved through the Port of Prince Rupert. 

Monika Cote 
Manager, Corporate Communications 
Prince Rupert Port Authority 

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