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Shipping Industry Marks ‘Day of the Seafarer’ Facing Unprecedented Challenges

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Shipping Industry Marks ‘Day of the Seafarer’ Facing Unprecedented Challenges

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 747
June 25, 2024

On today’s International Day of the Seafarer, tributes are pouring in for the critical role of seafarers in global trade amid unprecedented challenges faced by the industry.

The UN day of observance, held each year on June 25, serves as an annual celebration to recognize the invaluable contributions of seafarers to global trade and the economy.

Arsenio Dominguez, the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), praised the 2 million seafarers who keep global markets functioning and supply chains moving. “Seafarers have been sorely tested in recent years – facing hostile acts from piracy or in conflict zones. I humbly acknowledge seafarers’ resilience and sacrifice in the name of work,” he said.

Echoing Dominguez’s sentiments, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres also expressed his gratitude to seafarers, saying: “Seafarers are vital in ensuring a seamless flow of essential goods that eventually make it into markets, homes, and onto our tables… But their own lives have been put on the line in the face of grave threats. Let us together salute them for their essential work and support their safety.”

The day also shed light on the dangerous conditions seafarers often face. Since November 2023, innocent seafarers have been the target of ongoing attacks on ships traveling through the Red Sea, resulting in at least four deaths and many injuries. Dominguez condemned these attacks, stating that they could “never be justified” and calling for the immediate release of the Galaxy Leader and its crew, held captive for over seven months.

“On this Day of the Seafarer, let us remember those who have lost their lives while simply doing their jobs, serving on these ships. Their dedication and sacrifice must not be overlooked. I will continue to advocate incessantly for the safety and well-being of seafarers,” Guterres said.

In line with the day’s focus on safety, the IMO launched a social media campaign inviting seafarers to share photos and safety tips using the hashtags #DayOfTheSeafarer and #SafetyTipsAtSea. Contributions are coming in from around the globe, including one from a seafarer from the Philippines, Ms. KC Abigail Chin-Sood, who shared her tips for women in the sector.

“Safety at sea involves not only adhering to the highest standards of work safety but also, for women, establishing and maintaining clear boundaries with male colleagues,” she said. “Preserving your dignity on board is crucial for ensuring your personal safety. By maintaining professionalism and setting boundaries, you can protect yourself from potential scandals and preserve your mental well-being, contributing to a safer and more positive experience on the ship.”

Yrhen Bernard Sabanal Balinis, also from the Philippines, stressed the role of “tactful communication” among crews.

“Communication is key onboard ships.  Whether it be anchoring, pilot boarding, or mooring, the officers need keen situational awareness to ensure that things are running safely… But effective shipboard communication is not only limited to those. Is a crewmate feeling down, homesick, or anxious? Is abruptly agitated or constantly isolated? Has their performance drastically plummeted?  Tactful communication plays an instrumental role in seafarers’ psychological safety,” he said.

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