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Day of the Seafarer highlights sacrifice of mariners during pandemic

Jun 25, 2020 03:56 PM

COVID-19 travel restrictions have left hundreds of thousands stranded at sea

The following is text of a news release from the International Maritime Organization (IMO):

(LONDON) — The 2020 Day of the Seafarer pays tribute to unsung heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic: the seafarers who continue to carry essential goods despite facing tremendous challenges, including being stranded on board. Organized by the IMO, this year's campaign calls on governments to take action and formally recognise seafarers as key workers.

On June 25 every year, the Day of the Seafarer turns the spotlight on the contribution seafarers make to world trade. With the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the services they provide are more important than ever. Seafarers play an essential role in maintaining the flow of vital goods, such as food, fuels and medical supplies, that people, everywhere, need.

This is why the 2020 campaign is calling on IMO member states to recognize seafarers as key workers – and to provide them with the support, assistance and travel options open to all key workers during the pandemic. 

The campaign also seeks to raise awareness of the sacrifice of seafarers and the issues they face. Travel restrictions have left hundreds of thousands of seafarers stranded at sea, unsure when they will be able to return home. Many are fatigued and weary because their time at sea has been extended for months beyond the maximum stipulated in international conventions.

In his Day of the Seafarer message, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim highlighted the unique and essential work of seafarers, who deliver 80 percent of global trade by volume.

He praised the dedication, professionalism and resilience of seafarers, at a time when many are unable to be repatriated or replaced by relief crews. The secretary-general also emphasized the difficulties faced by seafarers, including denial of shore leave, difficulties in accessing medical care and, in some cases, the lack of personal protective equipment. "Despite all these challenges, seafarers have stayed on the job, 24/7," Lim said.  

"Just like other key workers, 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 the pandemic, but at all times," he said.

Lim has written to all IMO member states, urging them to recognize all seafarers as "key workers."

This call was echoed by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who thanked and saluted seafarers everywhere for their work, and urged all countries in the world to honor seafarers by recognizing them as key workers and providing the necessary travel assistance to ensure safe crew changeovers and repatriations.

Social media campaign

The Day of the Seafarer campaign is centered on social media. The 2020 hashtag is #SeafarersAreKeyWorkers

This hashtag can be used by anyone engaging in the campaign to pay tribute to seafarers and thank them for their important role in these unprecedented times. Seafarers themselves can use it to showcase their own position at the front line of this global crisis and share their experience with the rest of the world. Shipping companies and port organizations are also invited to show their appreciation for seafarers.

About the Day of the Seafarer

The Day of the Seafarer is celebrated every year on June 25. The day celebrates and recognizes the unique contribution made by seafarers from all over the world to international seaborne trade, the world economy and civil society. 2020 marks the 10th edition of the Day of the Seafarer.

For more information on issues surrounding crew changes and repatriation, read the FAQ here.

For more information on the work achieved by the IMO to help seafarers around the world and specific examples, click here

For more information on the impact of the pandemic on the shipping sector, including advice for seafarers and the industry, visit the COVID-19 webpage.

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