World Maritime Day 2005

International shipping - carrier of world trade

Today marks the 28th celebration of World Maritime Day, the annual occasion when the International Maritime Organization (IMO) leads the world in honouring shipping. This year the theme for World Maritime Day is International Shipping - Carrier of World Trade and is intended to highlight the importance and significance of shipping along with IMO's work in promoting safety, security and efficiency in the industry together with protecting the marine environment. Today, the Organization's work is accepted as a key element in supporting shipping's indispensable role in sustaining world trade.

Addressing the international maritime community in his World Maritime Day message, IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos has highlighted the fact that "shipping affects us all. No matter where you may be in the world, if you look around you it is almost certain that you will see something that either has been, or will be, transported by sea, whether in the form of raw materials, components or the finished article."

Mr. Mitropoulos said: "The sea knows no international boundaries and, although most maritime enterprise takes place out of sight of land, the ship is as important now as it ever was, perhaps more so. Standards of living in the industrialized and developed world, the jobs and livelihoods of billions in the developing world, all depend on ships and shipping. For IMO, creating the conditions in which international shipping can operate safely, securely and with a minimal impact on the global environment remains our mission and I am confident that the diligence, expertise and commitment of all those involved in any capacity in the Organization will ensure our continued success."

The Secretary-General praised the many marvels of state-of-the-art engineering and technology in shipping today that deserve to be ranked alongside the very finest achievements of our global infrastructure.

"I believe we should celebrate this excellence in shipping far more often than we do and, in selecting the theme for World Maritime Day 2005 - International Shipping - Carrier of World Trade - we sincerely hoped that we (Governments, organizations, industry and all other stakeholders) would be able to draw attention to the vital role that shipping plays in underpinning international commerce and the world economy as the most efficient, safe and environmentally friendly method of transporting goods around the globe. We live in a global society which is supported by a global economy - and that economy simply could not function if it were not for ships and the shipping industry," he said.

Mr. Mitropoulos also focused on the role of the seafarer in ensuring the success of shipping.

"On World Maritime Day, let us also celebrate not only the vital contribution that ships and shipping make to the prosperity and well-being of us all but also the men and women who take on the onerous task of operating them," he said. "Given the enormous responsibility those in command have both for the very lives of those who serve with them and for the environment, not to mention the commercial success of the enterprise in which they are engaged, it requires a very special kind of person to take up the challenge of a seafaring career - especially these days when ships, because of their capacity to carry passengers in their thousands and also because of their size, enabling them to carry cargoes in hundreds of thousands of tons, have the potential to cause enormous damage in the wrong hands. We should, therefore, never forget our collective responsibility to help promote the notion of seafaring as a viable and attractive career for people of the highest calibre, now and in the future. And we should treat seafarers with the respect they deserve in full recognition of their vital contribution to the community, seaborne trade and the economy at large."

IMO Headquarters celebrates World Maritime Day with a reception. This has become a tradition, on the evening of the last Thursday of September every year, for members of the London diplomatic and maritime communities and IMO staff. It is an opportunity to celebrate shipping and for its London-based representatives to get together and discuss informally current maritime issues.

Further to continuing celebrating the World Maritime Day in London, the IMO Council has agreed that an official parallel event take place annually to encourage global celebrations of the Day in other areas of the world. This year, Portugal has offered to host the first parallel event for World Maritime Day and preparations are ongoing for an international celebration in Lisbon in November.

Briefing 37, 29 September 2005

Background Information
The International Maritime Organization is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

Every year IMO celebrates World Maritime Day. The exact date is left to individual Governments but is usually celebrated during the last week in September. This year, IMO is celebrating the day on Thursday, 29 September 2005.

World Maritime Day is used to focus attention on the importance of shipping safety and the marine environment and to emphasize a particular aspect of IMO's work.

To mark the occasion, the Secretary-General of IMO prepares a special message and this is backed up by a paper which discusses the selected subject in greater depth.
The full text of the message and the background paper can also be found at ).

For further information please contact:
Lee Adamson, Head, Public Information Services on 020 7587 3153 ( or
Natasha Brown, External Relations Officer on 020 7587 3274 (