IMO's Message to World's Seafarers

[B]A message to the world’s seafarers[/B]

The International Maritime Organization has decided to dedicate next year to you by choosing, as the theme for World Maritime Day, “2010: Year of the Seafarer”. Our intention is to pay tribute to you, the world’s 1.5 million seafarers - men and women from all over the globe - for the unique, and all too often over-looked, contribution you make to the wellbeing of all of us.

We will do so with deep appreciation, in recognition of the extraordinary service you render every day of your professional life, frequently under dangerous circumstances, in delivering, to the more than 6.5 billion people of the world, the wheat that makes our daily bread, the gas and oil that warms our homes or moves our vehicles and the gifts we will share and enjoy with our families and friends over this Festive Season.

At IMO, we are ever-conscious of the important role you play in helping us achieve safe, secure and efficient shipping on clean oceans - the goals that we, as the United Nations specialized agency charged with the regulation of international shipping and as a member of the global maritime community, have set ourselves.

And so, we will celebrate next year’s World Maritime Day theme with much pride in your contribution to our objectives, to the facilitation of more than 90% of the world’s trade, and to sustainable human development.

In so doing, we also seek to reassure you, at the “sharp end” of the industry, that we, who are responsible for the international regulatory regime and who serve shipping from ashore, do understand the extreme pressures that you face and that, as a result, we approach our own tasks with a genuine sympathy for the work that you carry out.

At the same time, we will seek to add impetus to the “Go to Sea!” campaign, which we launched in November 2008 to attract new entrants to the shipping industry and, in particular, to encourage young people to follow in your footsteps by becoming the seafarers of tomorrow. We launched that campaign in association with the International Labour Organization, the “Round Table” of shipping industry organizations (International Chamber of Shipping, International Shipping Federation, BIMCO, International Association of Independent Tanker Owners and International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation, all of whom will be joining us in celebrating the Year of the Seafarer.

Last, but mostly importantly, we want to convey to you a clear message that the entire shipping community understands and cares for you - as shown by the efforts we make to ensure that you are fairly treated when ships on which you serve become involved in accidents; are looked after when you are abandoned in ports; are not refused shore leave for security purposes; are protected when your work takes you into piracy-infested areas; and are not left unaided when you are in distress at sea.

1.5 million seafarers serving the daily needs of more then 6.5 billion citizens of the world! It is a fact that goes unnoticed or is taken for granted by most, but one that should be trumpeted loud and clear. For seafarers the world over deserve our respect, recognition and gratitude and, during 2010, we at IMO are resolved to ensure that the world does take notice of your exceptional role and contribution and of the special debt that all of us owe to you. We thank you for that!

With best wishes for the Festive Season and the Year of the Seafarer - and a safe return home!

E.E. Mitropoulos

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Save the accolades IMO, just cut me a check so I can pay for all the training you sandcrabs cooked up us Mariners…

From January 's Seaways:

Life at sea: what young mariners want

“Intertanko and ITF organized a three-day workshop for 20 young seafarers of seven different nationalities in 2009. The aim was to find out their views about careers at sea and on what attracts young people to the shipping industry.
Their findings will, presented at the recent IMO assembly, provide additional stimulus to addressing issues of attraction and retention.”

Not being able to legally copy/reprint the article without permission, I trust these findings will be available somewhere on the www for further viewing.

And take a much stronger stance against FOC.

[quote=Old Bakelite;24644]From January 's Seaways:

Life at sea: what young mariners want

“Intertanko and ITF organized a three-day workshop for 20 young seafarers of seven different nationalities in 2009. The aim was to find out their views about careers at sea and on what attracts young people to the shipping industry.
Their findings will, presented at the recent IMO assembly, provide additional stimulus to addressing issues of attraction and retention.”

Not being able to legally copy/reprint the article without permission, I trust these findings will be available somewhere on the www for further viewing.[/quote]

Can you give us some bullet points from the findings? A summary?

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A sampling of only 20 people is worthless. I wonder why this was even done? Some hidden agenda no doubt.

Young Seafarers’ Focus Group
London, 6-8 April 2009
A group of 20 young seafarers, some sent through their companies who are members of
INTERTANKO, others through the ITF affiliated trade unions of which they are
members, met in London to discuss current issues relating to a maritime career. The
group consisted of a mix of deck and engine officers, ratings and one cadet. Of the
twenty, there were three women seafarers represented. Due to the INTERTANKO
involvement, the majority are engaged in work on board tankers, however the
experience of the group includes work on cruise ships, tug boats, car carriers and cargo
ships. Companies that supported participation are: Teekay Marine Services, Broström
Tankers France SAS, Maersk, and OSG Shipmanagement.
Observations and recommendations arising from discussions within the group and
with senior industry figures from INTERTANKO, INTERCARGO, InterManager, IMO and
ITF/Nautilus UK
Note: these are the views of the young seafarers who took part in the focus group, and
not those of the ITF and INTERTANKO
Background discussion
Reasons for going to sea
• Salary & tax break
• Family tradition
• Opportunity to see the world
• Lifestyle – hard work but long breaks – balance – shorter contracts, paid vacation
• Job opportunities – absence of other options
• Challenge – interesting work – deck & engine
• Attracts more practical people – need to experience life on board before
committing to years of academic education
Would you recommend to friends/family?
Those that said ‘yes’ gave the following reasons:
• Develop good life skills
• Wide range of training
• India: Now industry positively perceived, used to be more negative
Those that said ‘no’:
• In Asia salary differential not so great
• Conflict with family life – varies regionally
• Media: negative publicity – people ashore have very dated view of the maritime
Career for life?
• Difficult for women at sea to combine with starting families
• Lack of job security (contractual workers)
• Family tradition
• Hard work – not suited to older age
Summary of the main issues of concern (in no particular order)
• Job security
• Shore leave
• Criminalisation
• Manning vs workload
• Piracy
• Living conditions & communication with home
• Amount of paperwork on board
• Training issues
• Image of the industry
Job security & employment conditions
• Length of contract - 9 months too long
• ratio to time ashore important – 8 weeks on, 8 weeks off – good
• currency fluctuation can cause difficulties for seafarers
• better to be paid every month to enable mortgage loans etc
• good when companies provide personal loans for employees
• companies should pay for repatriation to home port for ratings as well as officers
 Companies should offer secure, direct employment agreements instead of contract
 Reduce length of contract without too much adverse effect on salary / vacation
 Companies should offer possibility of fixed exchange rates
 Companies should be aware of the importance of creating company spirit
• Seafarers treated like terrorists or criminal suspects
• All pain, no positives – burden all on seafarer
• Conflict between safety and security
• Not enough people to cover watches
• Shore leave denied many times – is it a right or privilege?
• Port State requirements not practical or reasonable
• No standard practice – sometimes need passport, sometimes not
• Same standards not applied in terminals as on ships
• Excessive cost of transit in ports/escorts
• Exacerbated issues of discrimination against some nationalities
 Industry should raise all the above concerns with IMO
 Flag States and Port States should consider practical implications of security regime
 IMO should promote more collaboration between ships and ports to address the
balance over ISPS responsibilities
 Port States need to improve training on ISPS Code to ensure awareness of seafarers
Shore leave
There was a discussion of which countries are the worst for their treatment of seafarers
wishing to take shore leave resulting in the following blacklist:
Brazil (some terminals)
Egypt (discrimination according to nationality)
Greece (discrimination according to nationality)
Saudi Arabia
Singapore (some terminals)
It was also noted that seafarers of certain nationalities experience denial of shore leave
more often than others.
 Seafarers have a right to shore leave. Everyone with an interest in the maritime
industry should redouble efforts to defend that right.
 An international reporting scheme should be established to enable seafarers to
report violations of their right to shore leave – to enable IMO to act on the
• fear of being blamed for environmental accidents
• security regimes make seafarers feel like criminals
 IMO/ILO Guidelines on the Fair Treatment of Seafarers should be made mandatory
 Industry (inc. seafarers representatives) should publicise the Guidelines mentioned
Manning vs workload
• Constant influx of new requirements (international and company specific)
alongside existing requirements
• Virtually impossible to relax and go ashore
• Problem of fatigue
• Additional work should be proportionate to number of crew
 There is a strong need to review the manning on board ships to take into
consideration quality of life and safety at sea
 Four on, eight off watch schedules, in port and at sea, work best and should be
• more reassurance to seafarers that companies will support them and ensure their
release if taken hostage
• compensation
• danger money
• official military support (as opposed to private security firms) on board welcomed
• rerouting to avoid pirate infested areas supported
 IMO should continue to exert pressure through the UN to eliminate the problem of
Living conditions & communication with home
• quality of life on board is adversely affected by poor standards of accommodation
and recreational facilities
• important to have single cabins
• lack of adequate contact with family
• seafarers should have personal email addresses to ensure privacy
• computers with internet access should be placed in such a way as to allow
• could be much better with access to internet
• internet access is also important for distance learning
• some companies give inadequate allowances for food
 Companies should provide internet facilities & personal email accounts on board,
with free access for crew – for work & private use.
 Companies should ensure that design is fit for purpose (in terms of living
accommodation) when ships are ordered.
Amount of paperwork on board
• The ISM Code – too open to interpretation – there is no consistency between
companies, some create very paper-heavy procedures
• Duplication of information
• too much dealt with on board
• not enough time/manpower
• need a secretary on board
• seafarers responsible for themselves and their own work as well as paperwork &
onboard training of others
• sense that companies covering their backs – blame culture
Companies should review their procedures, and consider the following options:

  • database system
  • administrator on board
  • better systems between shore & ship
  • more efficient procedures, avoid over complication
    Training issues
    • Computer-based training on-board – mandatory for promotion but not enough
    time to fit in with duties – would be better to do ashore – company issue
    • Additional courses required by charter party – individuals have to pay (company
    • Licences – costs passed on to seafarer – depending on company
    • Training on seafarers rights
     Companies should review their CBT policies
     Training and licences – costs should be born by company not seafarers –particularly
    difficult for ratings
    Image of the industry
    • There is either a lack of knowledge amongst the public about the industry or an
    old-fashioned, outdated idea of seafaring
    • Airline pilots are portrayed as heroes, seafarers like criminals
     Invest in the promotion of a positive image of the industry

Looks like the image you referred to is a local image on your machine:

It won’t work here. You’d have to refer to an image on line somewhere.

I agree that 20 people may be meaningless, but what if it were 200 or 2,000, would it then have been a worthwhile exercise?

If so, what if it was a survey of US Mariners only, to see how much we differ?

gCaptain alone might be able to drum sufficient numbers for reasonable participation in an equivalent survey?