Today, once again, marks the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Day of the Seafarer, focused this year on seafarer wellbeing.
2017 and 2018 have seen strong momentum in the industry to address seafarer wellbeing, especially their mental health. This year’s campaign is centered around specific strategies to tackle stress and other issues affecting seafarers’ mental conditions – and make the tools available more widely known.
The IMO encourages shipowners, suppliers and anyone else to use the hashtag #SupportSeafarersWellbeing to share how they offer good working environments on board, and how they address challenges in terms of seafarers’ mental wellbeing. Beyond that, seafarers are encouraged to share positive stories and situations of a good working environment at sea by using the hashtag #GoodDayatSea.
Seafarers are the unsung heroes of shipping, the industry on which everyone, everywhere relies for the goods we all need and want. Today we celebrate #DayoftheSeafarer by addressing the issue of seafarers’ wellbeing. https://t.co/u6wlbETvKo #SupportSeafarersWellbeing pic.twitter.com/ngbsLgghqy
— IMO (@IMOHQ) June 25, 2018
What is more, members of the European Community Shipowners’ Associations, UK Chamber of Shipping and the Royal Dutch Shipowners Association have each launched webpages signposting seafarers to mental health charities, chaplain services and support networks.
The move follows a study of more than 1,000 seafarers by Yale University and the Sailor’s Society, where 26 percent of seafarers said they had felt “down, depressed or hopeless”.
In May 2018, the UK Chamber of Shipping and seafarer’s trade unions launched detailed guidance for shipping companies on how to proactively support their seafarers’ mental health.
Jonathan Roberts, the UK Chamber of Shipping’s spokesman, said: “A career at sea comes with extraordinary prospects and opportunities, and we should be ambitious in recruiting great talent to our industry. But we must accept also that in some cases seafaring can leave people feeling lonely and isolated. By launching these web pages we are helping to ensure seafarers know that we are on their side.”
— UK Shipping (@ukshipping) June 25, 2018
Martin Dorsman, ECSA Secretary General, said: “Seafaring is a unique profession and the shipowners rely on highly skilled and motivated people to run the ships transporting goods and people across oceans and seas in frequently changing and sometimes challenging environments. We have a lot of respect for the men and women who make sure that the operations are run smoothly 24 hours a day 365 days a year, and want to do all we can to support their wellbeing.”
Annet Koster, Managing Director of the Royal Association of Netherlands Shipowners (KVNR) said: “A modern merchant sea-going vessel requires a responsible, independent and well-trained crew that safely navigates across the seas to deliver precious cargo all around the globe. Without the seafarers working far away from their homes and families, this work cannot be done. We, therefore, annually celebrate the Day of the Seafarer on the 25th of June. Not only to thank seafarers but to increase awareness about this magnificent sector and motivate youngsters to aspire a maritime career.”
Established in 2010, Day of the Seafarer is recognized by the United Nations as an observance day. Its purpose is to recognize the unique contribution made by seafarers from all over the world to international seaborne trade, the world economy and civil society as a whole.
Video Courtesy: IMO