Today as we mark the annual international Day of the Seafarer, our world is a very different place. Ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic, all of us have experienced difficulties, hardships and losses. As a global community we have joined forces and supported each other to overcome this monumental threat.
Seafarers have been at the heart of world-wide efforts to cope with and produce effectively during the pandemic. While much of the world shut its doors and its borders, and locked down to minimise risk, our seafarers went about their essential daily business to ensure everyone all over the globe was supplied with the goods and commodities they needed – food, energy, medicines, clothing, household goods, manufacturing materials among others.
To maintain the global supply chain, these seafarers were away from home for many long months, often over and above their contracted duration, missing loved ones and unable to help when illness struck in their own communities. They have endured rigid emergency measures and border controls which severely restricted their ability to travel to and from their ships as well as preventing shore leave and even visits for medical care or welfare support.
We owe our brave and dedicated seafarers a debt of gratitude. Today, more than any other day, we celebrate the steadfastness of the men and women who go to sea. We thank them for their tireless work and we pledge to ensure they receive the recognition and support they are due.
The theme of this year’s Day of the Seafarer is “A Fair Future For Seafarers”. Jamaica will continue to work with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), our Caribbean partners, and with industry stakeholders to ensure our seafarers have both fair treatment and a positive future.
In accordance with the recommendations of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the UN specialized agency with responsibility for maritime safety and security and the prevention of marine pollution by ships including by air emissions, Jamaica has designated seafarers as ‘essential workers’ and we call on all nations to do the same. As an IMO Council member, Jamaica is fully supportive of international regulations which protect the rights of seafarers and ensure their safety. We have enshrined the Maritime Labour Convention within Jamaica’s Shipping Act, and we are committed to the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, including measures to boost gender equality and equity and to support the careers of women seafarers and others within our maritime community at large.
In addition, the Maritime Authority of Jamaica has invested in a crew change online platform which seafarers, crewing agencies, and ship managers anywhere in the world can use to facilitate crew changes through special corridors at our borders and which has already processed and facilitated more than 3000 crew changes.
Looking to the future, the next generation will benefit particularly from the excellent training to the highest international standards which is provided by the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) – this year celebrating its 40th year of existence. CMU provides hundreds of young Jamaicans and other professionals with opportunities in the maritime industry, international shipping, and associated careers, preparing them for successful positions and equipping them with the skills needed to thrive at sea and in allied shore-based jobs.
As we celebrate the Day of the Seafarer, the Maritime Authority of Jamaica thanks the Hon Robert Montague and Hon Leslie Campbell for their messages of support. Jamaica has a number of events planned which will raise the profile of our seafarers and demonstrate our gratitude to them.
In addition, MAJ has conducted a survey among Jamaican seafarers to find out a range of important information on their lives at sea and today a virtual forum will be hosted where seafarers, alongside maritime industry experts, will discuss a range of issues of importance to the seafaring community. The findings of these activities will help to inform our future maritime policies and ensure that we continue to strive to ensure A Fair Future for Seafarers.