Using data mainly from the Union Maritime Information and Exchange System, EMSA issued a report providing figures on the impact of COVID-19 on shipping traffic.

By analysing ship calls at EU ports it was found that the number of ships calls at EU ports declined by 10% in the 2020 compared to 2019. The number of ships calls in December 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, while the most affected countries are Croatia and Norway.

EMSA also analysed the impact of the COVID outbreak on the activities of ships flying the flags of EU Member States in terms of calls at any port in the world. The total number of calls by vessels flying the flags of EU Member States in 2020 decreased by 3.5% in comparison to 2019.

Similarly, the related total gross tonnage decreased by 11.1%, and in the meantime, a significant decrease started in mid-March 2020, as an impact of the COVID-19 outbreak escalation across Europe that obliged many EU Member States to put in place lockdown measures.

From August 2020, however, this trend appeared more stable, alternating small positive and negative monthly variations.

In the current month of 2021, there is an increase of the number of port calls with a positive 16.9% variation to the 2019 values and a small decrease of -5.9% of the total gross tonnage calling.

In 2021, most of EU-MS flagged fleets increased their number of port calls compared with 2019 and some of them with very significant increases. The decreases this month are more prominent in Belgium and Bulgaria.

In the overall of the year 2021 the decrease of -21% of calls from Croatia flagged ships is to note. On the other hand, there are very significant increases for Latvia and Poland and in the overall of the year 2021, there is to note the increase of calls from Ireland flagged ships with +27% and Norway flagged ships with +24%.

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EMSA also analyses how the shipping routes from Europe to China and from Europe to the US have been affected. In 2020, the ship traffic from Europe to China and the US has declined when compared to same periods in 2019.

In 2021 the traffic to and from China is still below the 2019 values even though increasing above the values from 2020.

"However, in the traffic with the US, in particular the exports from the EU have recovered and increased to values above pre-pandemic since March 2021, while the imports from the US are now reaching the pre-pandemic values", said the report.

Furthermore, the report showed that the number of Persons on Board (PoB) on cruise ships began to decrease gradually from the beginning of March 2020 and remained at a very low level corresponding mainly to crew members on board these ships.

Finally, since the beginning of 2020 and especially since week 13 (23-29 March 2020) there is an increase number of ships “at anchor” in comparison with 2019.

Source: Safety4sea

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