Webinar "Seafarers are Key Workers: Essential to Shipping, Essential to the World"

Webinar "Seafarers are Key Workers: Essential to Shipping, Essential to the World"

24/26 June 2020

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim - opening remarks

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to welcome the panellists and everyone who attending online to this webinar organized to commemorate the day of the seafarer and highlight the contribution of seafarers during this pandemic.

Seafarers are at the heart of everything IMO does. And every year we celebrate seafarers with our Day of the Seafarer campaign.

Since its launch 10 years ago, the Day of the Seafarer campaign has grown and reaches 15 million people each year through social media. Many Governments, organizations and companies actively join in marking the day, as do many seafarers. I thank them all.

The very first campaign had a simple message: Thank you seafarers, for all that you do, to keep global trade moving.

That message has gained even more resonance this year.

Even in good times, seafarers are the unsung heroes of the global economy. More than 80% of global trade is delivered by sea. Seafarers' work is physically and mentally demanding, lonely and remote.

But this year, we are in the unprecedented situation of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Medicines, food, fuels and personal protective equipment – all delivered by seafarers even as COVID-19 has gripped the world.

But the crisis has led to difficult working conditions for seafarers, including uncertainties and difficulties about port access, crew changeovers and repatriation.

This year, the Day of the Seafarer campaign calls on Member States to recognize seafarers as key workers – and to provide them with the support, assistance and travel options during the pandemic.

As in other years, the Day of the Seafarer 2020 campaign pays tribute to seafarers, acknowledging their sacrifice and the issues they face. Many seafarers have been away from home for months and are unsure when they will be able to return home due to travel restrictions.

The campaign also seeks to raise awareness of the work achieved by seafarers in response to the pandemic and to thank them for their contribution.

Everyone is invited to recognize that the ability of seafarers to deliver vital goods is central to responding to, and eventually overcoming this pandemic. The work that seafarers have done during the pandemic has been heroic. 

The campaign encourages everyone to treat seafarers with the respect and dignity they deserve, so that they can continue to provide their vital services to keep world economy moving. The 2020 campaign hashtag is: #SeafarersAreKeyWorkers.

Seafarers' work is unique and essential. Seafarers are on the front line in this global fight. They deserve our thanks. But they also need – and deserve – quick and decisive humanitarian action from governments everywhere, not just during this pandemic, but at all times.

There has been progress to date and I commend the collaboration, cooperation and hard work by many stakeholders, in particular, by ITF, ICS and the shipping and port industry on top of the support from IMO member Governments, UN and UN agencies.

I look forward to hearing from our panellists on the seafarers and what steps have been taken to support seafarers during the recent difficult months and share their best practices, and I look forward to the meaningful and insightful discussions.

Thank you