Today, 25th June 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of IMO’s annual Day of the Seafarer.
As with other years, the 2020 Day of the Seafarer campaign has a theme. In 2019 the day highlighted the need for more women seafarers with the I Am On Board with Gender Equality campaign. (You can read our blog post from last year’s Day of the Seafarer here.)
In 2018 the campaign’s theme was Seafarer Wellbeing, which aimed to shine a light on an important topic that is very close to home for many of those who work in the maritime industry. The previous year, 2017, saw Seafarers Matter being the subject of choice, while 2016’s theme was At Sea For All.
So what have IMO chosen to focus on this year? It may not come as a huge surprise, considering the situation that we have almost all found ourselves dealing with thus far in 2020, namely the global COVID-19 pandemic.
In recognition of these demanding times, the worries that the maritime industry as a whole is facing, and of course, in particular the challenges that our seafarers are dealing with, the theme this year is Seafarers are Key Workers.
The 2020 Day of the Seafarer Campaign: Seafarers are Key Workers
In some parts of the world, it may have felt like seafarers were the forgotten key workers. Indeed, many seafarers must have felt underappreciated and overlooked while working harder than ever, all while trying to overcome the obstacles that the pandemic threw in their way.
Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals took centre stage with much of the focus on essential workers, being on them. And quite rightly so. These brave individuals are on the frontline and putting their own health at risk, dealing with and caring for the sick, day after day and night after night as the pandemic rolls on.
But there are plenty more unsung heroes of the coronavirus; from shop workers to refuse collectors and from those working in public transport and manufacturing to, of course, seafarers.
Indeed, it felt for a time that anyone not directly connected to the maritime industry had forgotten about the hardworking men and women away at sea. But, as IMO quite correctly points out:
“Seafarers are on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, playing an essential role in maintaining the flow of vital goods, such as food, medicines and medical supplies.”
They also acknowledge that the crisis created very difficult working conditions for seafarers. Issues such as crew change overs being blocked, port access being denied, and travel restrictions to return home being implemented, to name just three.
And while being onboard a vessel with no end to an already-finished contract in sight has caused stress and anxiety for many seafarers (and their families), a thought must also go out to those who are stranded on land, waiting for a contract to start and currently unable to earn a salary.
The Secretary-General of IMO, Kitack Lim, issued a personal message to seafarers everywhere, and in the words of the IMO:
“[Assures]...them that IMO understands the unique problems they face during the coronavirus pandemic and has been working tirelessly at all levels to find solutions for them.”
The 2020 Day of the Seafarer campaign pays tribute to seafarers and acknowledges the sacrifices many are making during this period of uncertainty. It also aims to raise greater awareness of the hard work that seafarers across the globe have done, and continue to do, to try and keep the global supply chain moving as much as possible.
Without that supply chain and without the efforts of our crews at sea, many essential goods would not be able to be delivered to the people that need them most.
Spread the word and use the hashtag #SeafarersAreKeyWorkers
IMO is asking anyone who wants to take part in the campaign to use the hashtag #SeafarersAreKeyWorkers on social media.
If you are a shore based worker in the maritime industry and have some understanding of the challenges our seafarers are currently facing due to the pandemic, jump on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and show your appreciation for our ocean-based coworkers!
If you’re someone who has just stumbled across this blog post and has no connection to the maritime industry, please remember that the shipping industry is responsible for 90% of global trade and that the world and commerce as we know it would grind to a halt without seafarers.
We can all use the hashtag to say thank you and pay tribute to seafarers for their crucial role as key workers in these unprecedented times.
Meanwhile, if you’re a seafarer, IMO also encourage you to use #SeafarersAreKeyWorkers on social media as a way of sharing your unique experience with the rest of the world, as well as letting everyone know that you’re on the frontline too. After all, you fully deserve the praise and recognition.
Here at Martide, we offer our sincere thanks to seafarers everywhere and we wish all of you, both onboard and ashore, all the very best for the Day of the Seafarer 2020.