In the year 2023, the shipping industry has witnessed the gradual development and emerged as a major transporter of goods and trade materials, playing a key role in the worldwide supply chain. As an integral part of the supply chain workforce, seafarers have made significant contributions in safeguarding the continuity of maritime transport. While the seafaring job may not be the most glamorous, its absence would lead to a halt in trade.
To honor the vital role of seafarers and raise awareness of their importance in the maritime industry, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) celebrates the Day of Seafarer annually. The theme for the Day of Seafarer in 2023 is “Ocean Worth Protecting,” commemorating the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) as the main global treaty for preventing pollution of the marine environment from operational or accidental causes.
Mr. Kitack Lim, IMO Secretary-General, emphasizes the critical role played by seafarers in protecting the health of our oceans and planet. He highlights that their role is becoming increasingly important as they enforce IMO’s environment-related treaties by implementing rules on garbage, sewage, and air pollution prevention during their daily operations at sea. Through their dedicated efforts, seafarers play a crucial role in maintaining a sustainable and pollution-free marine environment.
Despite the gradual development of the shipping industry, seafarers face several challenges in 2023:
- Crew Change Crisis: The ongoing crew change crisis due to COVID-19 has hindered seafarers’ movement, leading to extended contracts and fatigue.
- Mental Health and Well-being: The demanding nature of the job, prolonged time away from home, and isolation at sea contribute to mental health issues among seafarers, highlighting the need for proper support and resources.
- Piracy and Maritime Security: Seafarers continue to confront piracy and armed attacks in certain regions, causing safety concerns and stress during their voyages.
- Regulatory Changes: Frequent changes in maritime regulations and compliance requirements can be challenging for seafarers to adapt to new procedures and standards.
- Environmental Concerns: Seafarers are under increased scrutiny to comply with environmental regulations, particularly concerning ship emissions and sustainable practices.
- Automation and Technology: Advancements in automation and technology may necessitate seafarers to acquire new skills and adjust to changing roles on board vessels.
To address these issues, we place our trust in regulatory bodies and industry stakeholders, recognizing their significant role. In the current year, we aim not only to protect the seas but also prioritize the well-being and protection of our seafarers.