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World Maritime Day 2021: Seafarers at the core of shipping’s future

The highlight on seafarers comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges on seafarers, with thousands of people stranded on ships for months and unable to return to one’s own country or place due to national restrictions. This crew change crisis is a humanitarian emergency that intimidates maritime safety and security. 

The international community has observed the power of seafarers and shipping services to ensure the functioning of the global supply. This is the result of the professionalism and dedication of the world’s seafarers. The united nations (UN), via the international maritime organization (IMO), created world maritime day to celebrate the contribution of the international maritime industry towards the world’s economy in security, maritime environment, and especially shipping.

World Maritime Day 2021

World maritime day is well known on 30th September every year globally. This year the theme of world maritime day is “Seafarers: at the core of shipping’s future”. This aims to provide an opportunity to raise awareness of the vital role of seafarers, and to focuses on the importance of world trade, and increase their visibility within the maritime sector.

The prime motive of the day is to appreciate the importance of seafarers in safety, maritime security, safety, shipping, maritime environment, and the future of seafaring against a backdrop of increased digitalization. The theme also connects the united nations sustainable development goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 4 on education and training; SDG 8 related to work; SDG 9 on innovation and industry which is associated with the promotion of a resilient maritime sector; and SDG 5 on gender equality to promote the role of seafarer’s as a career for women as well.

What do people do?

World maritime day highlights the importance of the safety and security of marine, and therefore the marine environment, and to prominence a particular aspect of IMO’s work. This day also focuses on a special message from the IMO’s secretary-general, which is backed up by a discussion paper on the selected subject in more detail.

The day of world maritime day brings countries from all over the world including Australia, Canada, the united kingdom(UK), and the united states of America (USA) to contribute to this awareness day. To celebrate this day many maritime organizations and unions hold special events, activities, conference meetings, and programs to celebrate this day. These events range from symposiums to luncheons that fully highlight the day. Some learning institutes may organize a school trip to a maritime museum just to let the students understand the role of the maritime industry in shaping the world’s history, goods, and services.

Background of Maritime Environment

World maritime day was first discovered on March 17, 1978, to save the date of the IMO convention’s entry into force in 1958. During that time, the organization had only 21 member states but now it has about 167 member states and 3 associate members. This membership comprises all the nations of the world with an interest in maritime affairs, including the shipping industry and coastal states with an interest in protecting and safeguarding their maritime environment.

People have understood the regulations that have been taken on the improvement of marine safety and hence many agreements have been acquired since the 19th century. Many countries tried for a permanent international body to be authorized to promote marine safety but the UN was the one who acquired that position effectively. In 1948, an international conference adopted a convention formally set up the IMO, a UN agency that sustains and develops a regulatory framework for sustainable shipping. The IMO basically highlights areas such as safety and security, legal matters, technical cooperation, shipping, environmental factors, and maritime security.

Introduction to IMO 

The international maritime organization (IMO) is a specialized agency of the UN responsible to develop world affairs and other mechanisms for regulating maritime shipping. Its main objective is to form a regulatory framework for the shipping industry that is effective, universally adopted, and implemented. And hence, its role is to make a level playing field in order that ship operators cannot address their issues by compromising on the safety and security of the maritime environment.

The theme of the year 2020 was ‘Sustainable Development for sustainable shipping’ that aims to produce a chance to spread awareness about the united nation’s sustainable development goals. This theme also shows the initiatives taken by IMO towards a sustainable future. The IMO has also helped in adopting measures and framing regulatory frameworks, which helps in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The promotion of sustainable shipping and maritime development is one amongst the vital priorities of IMO and hence new technology, maritime Training, energy efficiency, maritime safety, and maritime infrastructure are being covered by the IMO’s to provide the regulatory framework for a green and sustainable maritime system.

Making voices of seafarers heard

IMO puts all efforts to hear the voices of seafarers by focusing on their situations. As a result of which IMO is launching a series of profiles of every seafarer in which they express their thoughts and views on their work and the future of shipping. 

Chief Engineer (UK) Mr. Matt Forster focuses on the importance of making seafarers more highlighted, particularly in the context of the crew change crisis. Talking to an interview session, Mr. Forster said, “We’re the pillars of the supply chains around the world. Trade is coming by sea. But because people are not aware of us, we don’t get the support we need. We want people to know that it is the men and women within our industry that provide them with everything they need their day-to-day lives”.

Mr. Kitack Lim, the secretary-general of the international maritime organization said, “We all must do better to support our brave professionals who continue to deliver global trade. The dedication and professionalism of more than one and a half-million seafarers worldwide deserve our great admiration and gratitude-but most importantly, immediate action”.

Further, he added, “A first step would be for all countries to designate seafarers as key workers, as outlined in the United Nations General Assembly Resolution adopted in December”. Referring to the UNGA resolution on International cooperation to the crisis faced by the maritime to support the global supply chains.


The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the crew change crisis in 2020 and focuses seafarer's contribution as prime workers on the front line of delivering vital goods and services. At this level of crisis, organizations like IMO and the UN are doing a great initiative to support the maritime environment and situation of seafarers. Seafarers stood tightly and supply daily need goods across the globe; Our shipping industry never stops and we are proud of it.

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Tags: support proud seafarers maritime security sustainable development goals united nations trade and commerce organization world maritime day shipping supply international maritime organization maritime environment


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