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In retrospect


Someone at IMO is bored…

 

Someone at IMO must have been jolly bored when crafting the announcement on their web site regarding the ‘Day of the Seafarer’ on 25th June.

IMO claim to want ports and seafarer centres around the world to share and showcase best practices in seafarer support and welfare. They want them to organise special activities for seafarers on that Day, for example:

  • 'social event organised in port to celebrate seafarers
  • public open day at seafarer centres
  • free wi-fi in port for a day
  • etc.’

It looks as though the author just got bored thinking of any initiatives to celebrate Seafarers’ special day. It appears that they gave up after’ Wi-fi’ and simply included the last bullet point ‘etc..’

Most people ashore are entirely ignorant of maritime matters and unaware that 90% of global trade is moved by sea. So, when on 25 June we mark the annual Day of the Seafarer the occasion probably won’t mean much to most people, perhaps not even the regulatory organisation that was formed with the specific aim of improving safety at sea.

The ‘Day of the Seafarer’ was established in an IMO resolution adopted by the 2010 Diplomatic Conference in Manila to ‘recognise the unique contribution made by seafarers from all over the world to international seaborne trade, the world economy and civil society’.

The resolution ‘encourages Governments, shipping organisations, companies, ship-owners and all other parties concerned to duly and appropriately promote the Day of the Seafarer and take action to celebrate it meaningfully’.

This year the theme is "Seafarers Matter". For 2017, IMO want to particularly engage ports and seafarer centres to demonstrate how much seafarers matter to them.  So, what in practical terms, does the ‘Day of the Seafarer’ mean for seafarers? How are our colleagues at sea and ashore actually going to benefit?

Bear in mind that on that day, most ships will be at sea and those seafarers on board ships in port will be on duty and working or, given the nature of shift work, will be asleep.

Goodness knows how many seafarers, as a percentage of the workforce, will have the opportunity to engage with people at the social events or benefit from the free-for-a-day Wi-Fi… and the mind boggles as to how the seafarer will benefit from the ‘etc’.

I understand what IMO are trying to achieve and I shouldn't diminish that effort. However I don’t think that the Day of the Seafarer will benefit Seafarers at all, even if they notice it. A better way however, perhaps, of demonstrating to seafarers that they ‘matter’ would be a simple reminder asking those who engage with seafarers, in whatever capacity or context they do so, to simply treat them with fairness, courtesy and respect.

This should be a given and readily understood by everyone already, after all, our mothers usually teach us these things. So fairness, courtesy and respect are three words that require little imagination on the part of any politician, port official or employer. Fair treatment, courtesy and respect cost next-to-nothing and are only what you would expect for yourself. However we often see seafarers denied one or all three.

 
Simon Beechinor