The ongoing global outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is having an impact on global shipping, affecting all shipping sectors from passenger ships to container ships and oil tankers. The coronavirus crisis escalated to unprecedented levels in Europe in March 2020, with a severe impact on health, people and the economy. Many countries have responded to the pandemic by imposing lockdowns or restricting movement in the last months.

The European Union is responding to the outbreak of COVID-19 and its consequences by adopting a wide range of measures in many areas (health, economy, research, border, mobility, etc.). Since the start of the COVID19 crisis, the Commission, the Member States and the shipping industry have been taking measures to ensure the continuity of operations and thus the security of supply.

What shipping will look like post-COVID-19 is unclear

The EMSA has the necessary data and tools to analyse the impact of the pandemic on certain shipping activities by analysing vessel traffic data and providing reliable figures to assist in the definition of the recovery policies and specific measures. These figures should assist all parties involved (EU, maritime administrations and shipping industry) in determining a recovery strategy to overcome the economic crisis that Europe is facing.

The objective of this report is to provide figures on the impact of COVID-19 on shipping traffic; it is based on solid vessel movements statistics showing the port call trends without interpreting the statistical data.

Direct and indirect impact on the shipping industry

With international transport at the forefront of trade and dependent on travel and human interaction, the shipping industry has been impacted both directly and indirectly by the outbreak of COVID-19. Using data mainly from the Union Maritime Information and Exchange System (SafeSeaNet1), and in certain cases combined with LRIT and MARINFO data, EMSA issues a report providing figures on the impact of COVID-19 on shipping traffic. The report is based on solid vessel movements statistics2 showing the port call trends without interpreting the statistical data.

By analysing ship calls at EU ports it was found that the number of ships calls at EU ports declined by 10% in 2020 compared to 2019. The number of ship calls in August 2021 increased by 11% compared to the same month in 2019. The most significantly affected sectors have been the Cruise ships, Refrigerated cargo ships and Vehicle carriers. Meanwhile, the number of Passenger ships, Ro-Ro Passenger vessels and Ro-Ro cargo vessels had an increase of 11%, 23% and 13% respectively.

The most affected countries are Estonia, Finland, France, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Norway, Portugal, and Spain. The detailed statistics on the impact on ship calls to EU ports per Member State, per ship type and even per port can be found in section 3.

Access the full report here.

Source: European Maritime Safety Agency

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