Malaysia Day of the Seafarer and celebration of Hari Raya Aidil-Fitri day
The Park City Grand Plaza Kensington Hotel, London, 25 June 2017
Speech on Day of the Seafarer 2017 – "Seafarers Matter"
By Kitack Lim, IMO Secretary-General
Excellences, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to join you today in your celebrations of the Day of the Seafarer and Hari Raya Aidil-Fitri day.
In the modern world we all depend on seafarers for most of the things we take for granted in our everyday lives. Over one million seafarers operate the global fleet – yet they bring both the essentials and the luxuries of life to billions of people. Shipping is essential to the world – but there would be no shipping without seafarers. Seafarers are, in effect, the lubricant without which the engine of trade would simply grind to a halt.
Today, on the Day of the Seafarer, we acknowledge those 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 would be unrecognizable. Yet, to many people, seafarers are virtually invisible.
The life of a modern seafarer can be dangerous and lonely. They may spend up to a year at a time away from home, separated from their family and loved ones and facing danger, isolation, loneliness and exploitation.
Even though seafaring can provide the basis for a fulfilling and satisfying life-long career, it is still a difficult and demanding job.
For this year’s Day of the Seafarer, our intention is not only to draw attention to the unique circumstances within which seafarers spend their working lives, but also to make a palpable and beneficial difference.
Seafarers rely on a global network of shore-based seafarer welfare centres in ports all over the world. These provide a home away from home. They make a huge positive difference in the lives of these vital workers. This year's Day of the Seafarer campaign highlights some of the best practices in seafarer welfare. By engaging with dedicated seafarer centres and facilities ashore we will spread the message that "Seafarers Matter".
And that's our theme for this year – Seafarers Matter.
To illustrate this concept, IMO has created an interactive world map showcasing best practices in seafarer support and welfare and is asking people to share the special things they do for seafarers and what services their organizations are offering to seafarers. This virtual map is creating an interactive web of safe havens for seafarers around the world.
Ultimately, we want to engage with ports to show their support for seafarers in imaginative and interesting ways, such as:
• a public open day at seafarer centres,
• a social event organised in port to celebrate seafarers, or
• free Wi-Fi in port for a day.
Above all, though, the "Day of the Seafarer" provides an excellent opportunity to reassure those who labour at the "sharp end" of the industry – the seafarers themselves – that those of us who work in other areas of the maritime community, and yet whose actions have such a bearing on seafarers' everyday lives, understand the extreme pressures they face and approach our tasks with genuine interest and concern.
So this year, in our Day of the Seafarer campaign, I ask you to join in showing that seafarers do matter.