VANCOUVER -- An international trade organization that includes BC Ferries as a member is calling on governments around the world to bail out the ferry industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interferry, which claims more than 260 ferry companies in 40 countries as members, says in a news release that it is "calling for all levels of government across the globe to include the ferry industry in their respective COVID-19 financial aid packages."

The trade association says ferry operators "need government backing to offset unsustainable losses" incurred during the coronavirus pandemic.

Specifically, Interferry is asking for "direct financial support to replace lost and severely reduced revenues," interest-free loans, relief from payroll and other taxes, and relief from port fees, where applicable.

"Ferry operators understand the essential role they play in keeping the supply chain channels open,” said Interferry CEO Mike Corrigan in a news release Friday.

"These companies continue to provide lifeline service, recognizing they are incurring mounting financial losses that are unsustainable over the longer-term. Operators are reporting declines in passenger traffic between 75 and 100 per cent and reductions in vehicle traffic of more than 50 per cent.”

Last week, BC Ferries announced it was reducing its schedule to match declining passenger demand. Then, earlier this week, the provincial ferry operator asked all passengers to avoid non-essential travel on its vessels.

Both the provincial and federal governments have outlined plans to support individuals and small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, neither level of government has passed legislation targeting specific industries that have been negatively affected by the virus.