"The 25th of June marks the annual Day of the Seafarer. It gives us the opportunity to focus once again on how important these unsung heroes are to all of us, in our everyday lives, and to reflect on just how much we rely on their services.
Almost 90 per cent of world trade is transported by sea, in ships. Ships carry food, fuel, raw materials, commodities and goods on which we all depend. Seaborne trade facilitates the global economy and it is no exaggeration to say that almost everything we touch has, at some point in its existence, been transported by sea or derived from something that was transported by sea.
Today we acknowledge the seafarers who operate the ships, bringing cargo safely to its destination, keeping to the schedules, day in and day out, regardless of the conditions they may have to face. Without seafarers, our lives cannot be sustained. Yet, to most of us, seafarers are virtually invisible.
The life of a modern seafarer can be dangerous and lonely. They may spend up to a year away from home, separated from their family and loved ones and facing danger, isolation, loneliness and exploitation. Nevertheless, we rely on seafarers for almost everything we eat or use in our daily lives.
On the Day of the Seafarer, let us pay tribute to the world’s 1.5 million seafarers for the unique and all-too-often overlooked contribution they make to the well-being of all of us. Let us take the opportunity to remember all those things that came by sea and which we could not live without. And, most importantly, let all of us make this the occasion on which we say “Thank you, seafarers.”
As we thank today’s seafarers, it is worthy of note that, to meet the growing demands of the world trade and the needs of the shipping and related industries, some 20,000 additional trained seafarers are required every year. To this end, in recognition of the vital role those seafarers will continue to play, I urge shipowners to meet their aspirations through providing comfortable accommodation, access to the internet and other facilities that we all take for granted ashore in the 21st century.
At the same time, flag States and port States should promote their fair treatment and Training Providers and Educational Institutes should ensure that young persons are trained effectively so that they can perform well on board ships.
My final message is to all young persons on the verge of choosing a future career to seriously consider seafaring, as even today it provides the chance to see the world and get paid for doing so! It also provides for a fulfilling and rewarding professional career either as a lifelong seafarer or as a springboard for related professional jobs in the maritime industries ashore."
Koji Sekimizu, Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization (IMO)