Bimco warns of continuing problems in Brazil coastal trades
Foreign seafarers employed on vessels owned by non-Brazilian companies are not able to obtain 'visa number 5', causing them great difficulties, the Baltic and International Maritime Council (Bimco) says.
It said the visas were being issued only to crew employed by Brazilian companies.
Following an earlier Bimco warning on the deteriorating situation in Brazil, one tanker was allowed to berth at Vila do Condo in Belem and discharge cargo after a Belem judge blocked a deportation order issued against the vessel's crew.
Bimco said that the Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras, time charterers in several of these cases, had asked Brazilian authorities to find a solution to the visa problem.
However, recent events demonstrated that authorities intended to continue punishing foreign tankers involved in the coastal trade.
Immigration officials at Vila do Condo issued a deportation order for crew of another vessel on January 9, giving them eight days to leave the country.
On January 14, the deportation was blocked by court order, but on January 22 the court revoked its decision, leaving the crew at the mercy of immigration officials.
With this latest court decision as a precedent for related cases, lawyers in Brazil fear tankers trading to Vila do Condo face several potential risks.
They might be refused permission to discharge cargo, but denied outward clearance while the Brazilian cargo remained on board. This would mean their crews faced deportation, leaving the vessels unmanned and unprotected.
The Brazilian Immigration National Council is considering a new ordinance to clarify the visa.
However, the ordinance is not likely to be released until March, at the earliest, and it may require all vessels under time charter in the Brazilian coastal trade to employ Brazilian crews if the time charter exceeds 90 days.