The current crisis shows us clearly how important maritime affairs are for both Estonia and Europe, as well as the whole world. When the borders are closed and air traffic has become minimal, the necessary goods are mostly transported by sea, and the seamless operation of the maritime sector has become paramount. Both in Estonia and elsewhere in Europe, a number of services have been minimized or even discontinued, but the Estonian Maritime Administration (MA) is ensuring the continuation of the services that are vital in the maritime affairs.
Navigation in Estonian waters
In order to ensure the safety of water traffic, both the VTS and GOFREP systems are in operation, as usual. Also, the aids to navigation in Estonian waters are working without any restrictions. In addition, the MA has started the preparations for the coming summer navigational season.
Similarly, publication of navigational information is continued as always. Navigational warnings and corrections to ENCs are being published as the general situation and the navigational conditions require. The monthly digital publication Notices to Mariners, corrections to the Sailing Directions and the List of Lights in Estonia keep appearing.
The electronic maritime information system EMDE also continues to operate in the ordinary manner.
In case any changes in the publication of navigational information have to be introduced due to any new developments in the emergency situation, notifications will be promptly published on the website of the MA and in the navigational information transmitted.
Digital solutions are preferable in client service
Although the Seafarers’ Certification Department at the address Lume 9 is open at the usual hours, we recommend using electronic means instead of visiting the office in person, in order to help contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
Until the end of the emergency situation, no examinations of skippers of recreational craft are conducted. Surveys of recreational craft do continue, however, but these are carried out taking reasonable precautions and considering the safety measures established for the protection of health, such as keeping a safe distance between persons.
Supervisory activities continue
Foreign-flagged vessels are inspected to a limited extent, after calculating the possible risks and taking into account such facts as the last port of call of a vessel. Estonian-flagged ships in foreign ports are currently not subjected to routine inspections. The MA is using the possibilities provided by law to extend the inspection deadlines for three months. More specific information about inspections can be found in the MA Circular No. 6 of 31 March 2020 (PDF).
All supervisory activities in ports are performed with no exceptions, taking health protection precautions.
Movement of seafarers
One of the most serious issues is the movement and repatriation of seafarers in a situation where borders are closed and restrictions on movement have been established. Employers are obligated to repatriate crew members of ships flying foreign flags upon expiry of their contracts. If the employer fails to fulfil this obligation, seafarers should contact the representative of their flag state.
If repatriation is not permitted due to the restrictions imposed in the country of location and help from the state of Estonia is needed, contact the nearest Estonian embassy or call the emergency phone number +372 5301 9999 of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In Estonia, the matters relating to crossing of borders is coordinated by the Police and Border Guard Board.
Please also see the FAQ on the Administration’s website.