Celebrating May 20th: European Maritime Day

May 20, 2024 · 8 mins read ·

Maritime Industry
AI generated image of sailing ships in a European harbor

This week we’re breaking with tradition and instead of publishing our two weekly blog posts on Tuesday and Thursday as we have done for the past five years, we’re posting on Monday and Wednesday instead.

And that’s because we couldn’t miss the opportunity to post today’s blog on May 20th - AKA European Maritime Day and Wednesday’s post on May 22nd - also known as National Maritime Day in the USA. (Don't forget to check that out later in the week!)

So whether you work in the maritime industry, either in a shore-based shipping job or onboard a vessel, or you’re just curious to find out more about this day, keep on reading.

What is European Maritime Day and where is it taking place this year?  

European Maritime Day (EMD) is an annual observance held on May 20th that highlights the importance of the seas and oceans to the European economy and society as a whole. 

The event, first established in 2008 by the European Council, the European Parliament, and the European Commission, serves as a platform to raise awareness, celebrate the maritime sector, and foster an integrated approach to maritime affairs. 

This year, the picturesque Danish town of Svendborg will host the main event on the 30th and 31st of May, promising an engaging and diverse program that encapsulates the spirit of Europe's maritime heritage and future.

Why we celebrate European Maritime Day

European Maritime Day was born from the realization of the need to better manage Europe's vast maritime resources in a sustainable manner.

The Blue Paper on an Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union, published in 2007, laid the groundwork for this annual observance which aims to shed light on maritime issues and bring together various sectors related to the marine environment, including energy, fishing, transport, and environmental conservation. 

Each year, the event is hosted in a different city across Europe, emphasizing the collective maritime heritage of the continent and encouraging a shared approach to challenges like marine pollution, climate change, and sustainable exploitation of resources.

How to take part in European Maritime Day

This year's celebrations in Svendborg offer numerous opportunities for both locals and visitors to engage with Europe's maritime sector. Here are some ways you can get involved:

Participate in the conference

The heart of European Maritime Day is its shipping conference, where key policymakers, researchers, and industry professionals discuss current maritime topics and strategies for the future.

This year's themes are expected to revolve around sustainable maritime growth, blue economy, and the latest innovations in ocean conservation. (Note that you must have already registered for the conference in order to take part.)

Join in with public events

Beyond the conference and if you're in the area, Svendborg will host an array of public events designed to educate and entertain. These include maritime exhibitions, workshops, and interactive sessions for children and adults alike. It's a fantastic way to learn more about maritime history, current issues, and the technology driving the sector forward.

Grab some networking opportunities

For professionals working in the shipping industry, or in adjacent sectors, European Maritime Day provides an unparalleled platform to network with industry leaders, innovators, and policymakers.

The informal settings of social events and galas are perfect for forging new partnerships and discussing potential collaborations over a glass of wine or a pint of Danish favorite, Carlsberg!

Take part virtually

Recognizing the global interest in maritime affairs, many of the event’s talks and workshops will be available online for those unable to attend in person. This ensures that the dialogue and learning opportunities are accessible to a worldwide audience.

What are some other Maritime Day events across Europe?

While Svendborg is the central hub for this year's European Maritime Day, numerous other events are scheduled across Europe to mark the occasion as part of the ‘European Maritime Day: In My County’ program. 

Countries across the region bring their unique flavor to the celebrations, often highlighting local maritime culture and industry-specific achievements.

In 2023, 494 events were organized in 31 countries, both in the EU and outside the EU and included:

  • Informational activities on maritime issues
  • Beach, riverbank and underwater clean-ups
  • Visits to ports and marinas, maritime museums, former ships, shipyards 
  • Eco-tours and walks in areas with significant maritime heritage

Read more: Discovering the World's Best Maritime Museums

This year’s activities run from April until the end of October across Europe with events typically being similar to the following:

Lisbon, Portugal: a week-long festival typically featuring maritime-themed art installations, traditional music performances, and a sailing regatta that showcases the city's rich naval history.

Piraeus, Greece: events often focus on the marine environment with beach clean-ups and educational seminars about marine biodiversity and conservation strategies.

Italy: Italian coastal cities, such as Genoa and Venice, often host exhibitions on maritime technology and shipbuilding, reflecting their historical connections to maritime trade and exploration.

Hamburg, Germany: Hamburg frequently offers tours of its impressive port facilities and shipyards, providing insights into the modern maritime logistics and engineering feats.

What is the significance of European Maritime Day?

The significance of European Maritime Day goes beyond events, conferences, tours and workshops. It's a call to action for the sustainable development of marine resources and a reminder of the oceans' critical role in global ecosystems. 

By bringing together a wide range of stakeholders, EMD fosters a shared commitment to protecting the continent’s maritime heritage and ensuring the health of its oceans for future generations.

On this European Maritime Day, the anticipation is building for what promises to be a vibrant and enlightening experience in Svendborg. 

Whether attending in person, participating online, or joining satellite events across Europe, everyone is invited to partake in the festivities and contribute to the ongoing discourse on maritime affairs. 

This day not only celebrates Europe's connection to the ocean but also reinforces the responsibility that all of us, wherever we are, have towards these vast, blue expanses that sustain life on our planet.

Will YOU be taking part in any European Maritime Day events or activities? If so, let us know on our social media accounts what you’re doing. You can find Martide on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (X).

And if you're posting, don’t forget to @ us and use the hashtag #EuropeanMaritimeDay on your posts!

Eve Church

Eve Church

Eve is Martide's content writer, publishing regular posts on everything from our maritime recruitment and crew planning software to life at sea. Eve has been writing professionally for more than two decades, crafting everything from SEO-focused blog posts and website landing pages to magazine articles and corporate whitepapers.


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