Day of the Seafarer 2021 explores fair future

June 25, 2021
Mohd Redzal 1
© Mohd Redzal

The Day of the Seafarer, held on 25 June every year, draws global attention to the contribution that seafarers make to world trade. As the world slowly moves through the pandemic, it is more important than ever not only to acknowledge the efforts that seafarers have made to keeping the supply chain open despite extremely challenging conditions, but also to ensure that the future being built is one that is fair to them. This is why IMO's 2021 Day of the Seafarer campaign has chosen the theme of 'A Fair Future for Seafarers'.

For a second year in a row, we are marking this day as hundreds of thousands of seafarers continue to face restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Access to repatriation, shore leave and medical support all continue to be a challenge. Although there has been a significant reduction in the number of seafarers caught up in the crew change crisis, the numbers remain unacceptably high.

As key workers, seafarers should be entitled to priority vaccination and allowed to travel without restrictions. IMO continues to urge more IMO Member States to give seafarers their due and designate them as key workers. Currently only 60 IMO member states have designated Seafarers as key workers. IMO will continue to work with sister UN Agencies, industry and member states in support of seafarers.

In his message on the Day of the Seafarer, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said: 'Our 2021 Day of the Seafarer campaign builds on the progress to support seafarers on pandemic-related challenges. It aims to draw global attention to all areas where fairness is important. This includes a safe, secure environment on ships, reasonable working conditions, fair treatment in all situations, as well as respect for the rights of all - regardless of race, gender and religion.

'I am especially pleased that IMO will be amplifying the voices of seafarers themselves as they discuss what a fairer future would look like to them under the hashtag #FairFuture4Seafarers. Seafarers, we are listening – and we will make sure you are heard.'

Watch the video here:

In his message on the Day of the Seafarer, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: 'Seafarers must be recognized as key workers who deliver an essential service, and be given access to transit and travel. Seafarers must also have equitable access to vaccines, as nobody is safe until everyone is safe...We must acknowledge that the future of world trade depends on the people who operate ships. All stakeholders must work together to ensure a fair future for seafarers.'

IMO used this year's theme across various IMO social media platforms to ask seafarers what this fair future means to them. Over the past 10 weeks, IMO has published a weekly poll and seafarer video on relevant topics ranging from training and autonomous shipping to the impact of the pandemic, the fight against climate change and diversity in maritime. IMO has received more than 16,000 responses to the 10 questions from seafarers across our Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram channels. The polls and the responses have reached hundreds of thousands of people.

The compiled list of all the poll questions and their answers – along with the seafarer videos – can be found on the IMO website Day of the Seafarer 2021 page.

The most popular question, which received 3,000 votes, asked 'who should be responsible for a fair future for seafarers?'. A majority 54% of respondents answered that it must be a shared responsibility between IMO/ILO and Governments; shipping companies; and seafarers.

IMO also launched a special Day of the Seafarer 2021 video-poem by Mr. Chad Christopher Jordan that is dedicated to seafarers and their hard work, which often goes unseen. Watch the video here:

Secretary-General Lim encouraged all stakeholders in the maritime sector to continue the conversation on and off social media, paying special attention to the voices of the seafarers themselves. Read more on the IMO website.

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