The United Nations maritime agency is celebrating the International Day of the Seafarer today with a campaign that harnesses the power of social media to highlight the sheer diversity and scale of products used in everyday life that travel by sea, and to recognize the more than 1.5 million people worldwide who deliver them.
“Seafarers operate on the ‘front line’ of the shipping industry,” the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Koji Sekimizu, said in his message for the Day, which is now being observed for the third time.
This year’s campaign, ‘Faces of the Sea,’ aims to highlight the individuals that are often unseen, but who work to deliver more than 90 per cent of the world’s goods, he added.
“We will ask the seafarers themselves to show us snapshots of their daily life at sea, to give them a voice and share their story on a global stage, via social media.”
Mr. Sekimizu noted that 2013 is a landmark year for the seafaring community, as the Maritime Labour Convention enters into force in August. “This marks significant progress in the recognition of seafarers’ roles and the need to safeguard their well-being and working conditions,” he said.
The Convention sets minimum requirements for seafarers to work on a ship and contains provisions on conditions of employment, hours of work and rest, accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering, health and medical care and welfare and social security protection.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon used his message for the Day to urge everyone to remember the contribution of seafarers to world trade and development.
“On the Day of the Seafarer, I urge everyone to spare a thought for those courageous seafarers, men and women from all corners of the world, who face danger and tough working conditions to operate today’s complex, highly technical ships, every hour of every day of the year – and on whom we all depend,” he said.
“The effectiveness of the modern, global economy depends on the large-scale transport of cargo between locations all over the world. The only effective way to carry the vast majority of those goods is by sea,” he said.
“The maritime transport industry is, therefore, central to the livelihoods of billions of people; and the maritime transport industry, in turn, relies on seafarers. Without them, international trade would simply grind to a halt.”
The IMO, based in London, is the UN specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.