Ukraine: IMO seeks safe “blue corridor” for ships

Written by Nick Blenkey
Call for blue corridor was made at a special meeting of the IMO Council

Call for blue corridor was made at a special meeting of the IMO Council

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is calling for the establishment of a blue safe maritime corridor.

It would allow the safe evacuation of seafarers and ships from the high-risk and affected areas in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov to a safe place “in order to protect the life of seafarers, ensure the mobilization and commercial navigation of vessels intending to use this corridor by avoiding military attacks and protecting and securing the maritime domain.”

The call for a blue corridor was made at an extraordinary session of the IMO Council held on March 10 and 11 to address the impacts on shipping and seafarers of what it termed “the situation in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.”

The IMO Council asked Secretary-General Kitack Lim “to collaborate with the relevant parties and take necessary immediate actions to initiate the establishment and support the implementation of a blue safe maritime corridor in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov and keep member states informed of developments and report to the next session of the council.”


The blue corridor proposal was among a number of steps that the council said should be taken to reduce the suffering of seafarers and their families:

  • as a priority, ships should be allowed to sail form the ports of Ukraine at the earliest opportunity without threat of attack;
  • for those ships that cannot leave immediately, or where it would be unsafe to do so due to the presence of sea mines or other hazards, humanitarian corridors should be set up that enable the safety of seafarers by allowing them to leave the conflict zone and return home, as appropriate;
  • any form of harassment of seafarers due to their nationality should be condemned;
  • seafarers affected by the conflict should be allowed free access to communications with their families;
  • states should ensure that seafarers are able to access their wages;
  • states should acknowledge the key worker status of seafarers and allow their unrestricted movement;
  • taking into account the key worker status of seafarers, sates involved should strongly consider exempting their seafarers from mandatory military service; and
  • where port state control officers are presented with expired documentation, a pragmatic approach to the inspection should be taken, considering the exceptional nature of the situation.

You can read the full official IMO statement HERE.

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