The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic brought many industries to a standstill, disrupted the flow of operations, and brought mass uncertainty around the world due to its dynamic nature. Within the maritime industry, seafarers found themselves on the front line of global operations which saw them working in uncertain, difficult working conditions when it came to crew changes, re-supply, and port access.

Since the start of the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of seafarers have found themselves stranded at sea for months on end due to travel restrictions set out by the pandemic.

In light of this situation The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) are promoting the importance of this year’s Day of the Seafarer campaign. Governments, companies, shipping organisations and many more, are encouraged to promote and celebrate this day to spread the message and highlight the changes that need to be taken.


A day of acknowledgment

The Day of the Seafarer not only pays tribute to the world’s 1.5 million seafarers who are often overlooked, but also shows respect, recognition and gratitude via the interaction on social media and online. The day also aims to educate the public around the issues that are currently faced by seafarers, and what needs to be done to achieve a better future for them.

Last year the campaign focused on the importance of governments to acknowledge seafarers as key workers, easing travel restrictions which would facilitate crew changes. This year the campaign is continuing to promote this message and is expanding on the issue of a fair future for seafarers.

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The campaign highlights the issues that will present themselves to seafarers after the pandemic such as fair working conditions, fair treatment and fair training and safety. The hashtag #FairFuture4Seafarers has been widely used on Twitter by those within the industry, as well as those who support this message to voice their thoughts and take a stand for the campaign.

During the build up to the day, IMO posted a variety of polls on their social media channels, encouraging people to vote and respond to various issues. IMO ran ten polls in the weeks leading up to the Day of the Seafarer 2021 with questions discussing the role of seafarers when it comes to fighting climate change, how the pandemic has changed the future of seafaring, training and resources and more.

In total the polls amassed over 15,000 responses from seafarers online with the polls reaching an audience of hundreds and thousands via IMO’s social media channels.


The poll results

One of the poll questions focused on the safety and security of seafarers and whether they feel that adequate training is provided to them in case they are in an emergency situation. Titled: ‘Do you feel adequately trained to tackle the challenges in shipping in the future?’ Results showed that although 45% of respondents reported feeling adequately trained, 42% reported that they felt that they required more training.

Alongside this a similar poll titled: ‘Do you know what to do if you find yourself in need of help while onboard?’ Showed that 18% of respondents were unsure where to look – the results of these polls suggest that training and further safety knowledge surrounding emergency situations would be beneficial for seafarers.

As discussed earlier the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic have presented many challenges, obstacles, and stressful situations for seafarers from being stranded at sea to crew change nightmares. In the poll titled: ‘How has the Covid-19 pandemic changed the future of seafaring?’ A staggering 73% of respondents selected ‘for worse’ which further highlights the stress and struggles of working within the industry during the pandemic.

IMO followed on from this discussion by asking ‘In light of the Covid-19 impact on seafaring, what is most important for you for your future as a seafarer?’ Results showed that 41% of respondents selected ‘guaranteed access to repatriation and crew change’ followed by 24% selecting ‘priority vaccination.’

It is hoped that these areas will be developed and prioritised by government bodies to further improve the working environment for seafarers during the ongoing pandemic.

“We all must keep seafarers in our hearts and continue to take action that will return seafaring to normal practises for crew changes.”

In IMO’s video message, which discussed the importance of the day and how individuals are able to get involved, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said: “We all must keep seafarers in our hearts and continue to take action that will return seafaring to normal practises for crew changes.”

“If you are part of the maritime industry or a beneficiary of the service of seafarers, I ask you to listen to their words, show your appreciation, and take action to create a better world for seafarers who do so much for all of us.”