World Maritime Day 2021
Seafarers: At the Core of Shipping’s Future.
World Maritime Day is a celebration and remembrance initiated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to appreciate the importance of the maritime industry. Its purpose is to underline the three most valuable sectors considered by the organization: maritime security, environment, and safety. The first event was held in 1978 with the commemorative day held on the last week of September. The day also marks the 20th anniversary of the day the IMO Convention’s entry came into force.
Birth of International Maritime Organisation (IMO)
At dawn, on 15 April 1912, in freezing waters of the North Atlantic Ocean, RMS Titanic sank resulting in the deaths of more than 1,500 people. In March 1967, following a navigational error, the supertanker Torrey Canyon struck Pollard’s Rock, spilling an estimated 25–36 million gallons (94–164 million litres) of crude oil contaminating 270 SQUARE miles (700 km2) of the Cornish and French coasts. The two maritime disasters, one with the tragic loss of life and the other causing severe environmental damage, initiated an international conference that was held in Geneva in 1948. The result was to adopt a maritime convention and to formally establish IMO (the original name was the InterGovernment Maritime Consultative Organization or IMCO until 1982). A purpose, driven by world events, IMO’s purpose was to improve safety and avoidance of maritime pollution. Then, on 11 September 2001, militants associated with the Islamic extremist group Al-Qaeda hijacked four aeroplanes and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Considering that even ships could be hi-jacked and used as mass destructive weapons, IMO extended is its scope to ships’ security in ports. With the advent of Somalian pirates boarding ships and holding the vessels and crew for ransom, IMO extended the security measures to ships at sea. World Maritime Day 2021. Each year IMO nominates a theme for its day. This year it is, “Seafarers: at the core of shipping’s future”.
Throughout the year, the theme emphasizes the need to increase the visibility of seafarers by drawing attention to the invaluable role they play now and will continue to play in the future.
Extraordinary time for action
IMO has also chosen to make 2021 a year of action for seafarers. It acknowledges the men and women at sea facing unprecedented IMO has also chosen to make 2021 a year of action for seafarers. It acknowledges the men and women at sea facing unprecedented hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, despite their vital role as key workers for global supply chains. The focus on seafarers comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has placed extraordinary demands on seafarers, with hundreds of thousands of men and women stranded on ships for months beyond their original contracts, unable to be repatriated due to national travel restrictions. A similar number of seafarers are unable to join ships and earn a living. This crew change crisis, which has been ongoing for nearly a year, is a humanitarian emergency that threatens the safety of shipping.
Throughout the year, the World Maritime theme is placing the spotlight on other issues related to the human element of shipping, including:
- the safety and security of life on board ships
- seafarers’ well-being, and
- the importance of ensuring an appropriately trained and
qualified workforce, ready to meet the challenges and
opportunities of digitalization and automation.
With the “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community” theme in 2019, IMO reinforced the idea that a ship’s crew needs a balance of gender equality. This statement by the IMO has not only encouraged more females to join the noble professions but also facilitated the acceptance of females to a historically male-dominated industry.
It is usual to parade through the town displaying banners of stakeholders.
Each country celebrates the day organized by the Maritime Administration with ample support from their governments. On an occasion where outstanding service from seafarers is recognized.
An award ceremony accompanied by a cake in the shape of a ship is shared amongst the crowd.
This is a day where seafarers, young and old, come together for celebrations of comradeship and to be recognized for service rendered to the nation and the world.
CEO/Director in Charge
Fiji Maritime Academy