Jamaica proudly joins the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and its Member States in observing the Day of the Seafarer, celebrated this year under the theme, “Fair Future for Seafarers”.
The theme underscores the important role that this brave cadre of professionals play in sustaining global trade and recognizes their contribution to the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Through their efforts, we have been able to maintain uninterrupted delivery of vital medicines and other critical supplies. With nearly ninety percent (90%) of the world’s food, fuel, raw materials and manufactured goods delivered by sea, the seafaring community is a fundamental partner in our march towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Developing Goals (SDGs).
Despite their importance to the global economy and to the livelihoods of billions of people, seafarers are among the most high-risk categories of international workers. Not only did the pandemic leave countless seafarers stranded at sea due to travel restrictions, it highlighted their exposure to extreme health hazards, risk of labour exploitation and abuse and the need for stronger social protection in the maritime industry. It is therefore vital that the international community demonstrate greater solidarity in recognizing seafarers as key workers, and urgently strive to promote and protect their rights and improve their working conditions.
Closer to home, as we celebrate Day of the Seafarer 2021, it is important to recognize the indelible contribution of our very own Jamaican seafarers, cruise shipping and hospitality sector workers, sailors, and various other professionals.
In this regard, I recognize and applaud the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU), which celebrates its 40th year of existence. The CMU continues to deliver training and certification of seafarers, consistently in line with the highest international standards, taking account of our seafarers’ important responsibility in protecting the marine environment and the planet. The Caribbean Maritime University continues to provide countless young Jamaicans and other professionals with opportunities in the international shipping, logistics and maritime industry. In so doing, it continues to directly support Jamaica’s economic growth and job creation agenda.
As a Small Island Developing State, strategically poised to become an important logistics hub within the hemisphere, maritime shipping will increasingly become the lifeline of our economic development.
As we honour our seafarers this year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade renews its commitment to work diligently within the IMO and other international fora, to secure a sustainable and fairer future for our courageous seafarers, on whom we so greatly depend.