The captain of the ship, driving the ship

World Maritime Day – September 29

World Maritime Day is celebrated annually to give thanks to the international maritime industry workers and recognise how important the shipping industry really is. International shipping is the backbone of the global economy, transporting over 80% of all global trade to communities and people worldwide.

World Maritime Day Background

Since 1978, every last Thursday of September has been celebrated as World Maritime Day. The day coincides with the establishment of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in 1958. The IMO is the United Nations’ specialised agency with responsibility as the standards-setting body for the safety and security of international shipping. The IMO also works to prevent marine and atmospheric pollution from ships, and supports the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.

World Maritime Day Theme 2022

Each year World Maritime Day has its own theme that is meant to encourage and motivate those within the shipping industry as well as offering opportunities to tell others about it. Past themes have included:

  • Seafarers: at the core of shipping’s future
  • Sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet
  • Empowering Women in the maritime community

The theme for this year reflects the need to support a green transition of the maritime sector into a sustainable future, while leaving no one behind. It provides an opportunity to focus on the importance of a sustainable maritime sector and the need to build back better and greener in a post pandemic world.

The 2022 theme will also allow for a range of activities to delve into specific topics related to promotion of inclusive innovation and uptake of new technologies to support the needs for a greener transition of the maritime sector, especially in the context of developing countries, and in particular the small island developing States (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs).

Thank you to the Workers

There are no holidays in shipping, freight does not stop moving. So while you are celebrating with your family enjoying holidays together, there are seafarers on the oceans working long hours, receiving precarious pay, and bearing the emotional toll of being separated from their families for many months.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the professionalism and sacrifice that seafarers take while working on these huge ships. These workers were critical for the COVID-19 response and recovery, transporting vital medical supplies, food and other basic goods. Unfortunately, these hard working men and women were met with a humanitarian crisis, hundreds of thousands of seafarers were stranded at sea, unable to get off the ships they operate with contracts extended by many months due to Covid restrictions.

And this is ongoing – In July this year Tarun Grover, a seafarer said he spent six months at sea without leaving the ship once. Once his ship docked in Townsville, he was keen to get onto land. Reflecting on the “tough” time, he said he did not want to take the shore leave for granted.

“It’s not a good thing to keep seafarers onboard all of the time,” Mr Grover said.

“It becomes like a prison.”

Mr Grover and his colleagues were among some of the lucky ones to be on land as some international shipping companies continue to deny staff shore leave due to the risk of COVID-19.

Across regional Queensland, volunteers were doing what they can to lift the spirits of crew members who were not allowed to leave their ships.

Queenslanders were organising welfare packages with sanitary products, warm clothes and magazines are common, but some donations include hand-knitted beanies from the community.

Maritime Industry Australia chief executive officer Angela Gillham said it had heard about international companies refusing shore leave but was not clear about how widespread the problem was.

“As an organisation, we support the fundamental rights of seafarers to access shore leave, and that right is enshrined within the Maritime Labour Convention,” she said.

“Not allowing seafarers to take shore leave during the pandemic has had a huge mental health impact.”

The United Nations have also addressed the issue saying Governments need to get involved designating seafarers as essential workers and ensuring safe crew changes can take place.

World Maritime Day was established by the United Nations in 1978 and is meant to raise awareness about the importance of the shipping industry and the vital contribution it makes to places all over the globe. We can use this day to educate people who don’t know a whole lot about shipping and show them what a life on the sea actually entails so the sacrifice the seafarers make to deliver our goods to us don’t go unnoticed.