1 October 2021

The Centre for International Maritime Affairs, Ghana (CIMAG), has joined the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Ghana Maritime Authority to mark this year’s World Maritime Day.

The World Maritime Day theme for 2021, ‘Seafarers: at the core of shipping’s future, seeks to increase the visibility of seafarers by drawing attention to the invaluable role they play now and will continue to play in the future.

80 per cent of global trade is transported by ships, and the maritime supply chain is supported by more than 1 million seafarers, who are key in delivering the services needed to run our societies.

Even as the world slowed down as a result of the pandemic, seafarers did not stop but kept the supply chain running to ensure goods could reach their destination.

This allowed world trade to continue, but it did so at great costs to the seafarers.

The Covid-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented crew change crisis which has led to hundreds of thousands of seafarers being impacted and, in many instances, left stranded on ships beyond the expiry of their contracts.

The crisis has now been ongoing for more than a year and a half, and the latest data shows that the situation is getting worse.

“Our collective failure to properly address the crew-change crisis puts the seafarers, who are key in supporting global trade, in an unacceptable situation. It prevents them from returning home to their loved ones and the extended periods at sea have significant consequences on their physical and mental wellbeing” CIMAG said.

It added that “If left unresolved, the impact of the difficulties in carrying out crew-changes could expand as seafarers understandably enough start considering whether they want to return to the sea, which could pose a threat to the resilience of global supply chains.”

The World Maritime theme for 2021 also links to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – particularly SDG 4 on education and training; SDG 8 related to decent work; SDG 9 on innovation and industry, which links to the promotion of a resilient maritime sector; and SDG 5 on gender equality, linked to efforts to promote seafaring as a career for all, including women, in particular.

The 2021 theme is also a continuation of, and is directly linked to, the 2020 theme ‘Sustainable Shipping for a Sustainable Planet’ to highlight the role that seafarers will play in ensuring the sustainable future for shipping.’

With the Maritime industry being the lifeblood of the global economy, CIMAG calls on governments and other stakeholders to take the welfare of seafarers more seriously for the survival of mankind.