To commemorate this year’s International Day of the Seafarer, we came together to reflect on issues the maritime industry faces in relation to the theme, ‘A Fair Future for Seafarers’.
Every year, we rally around the theme set by IMO’s International Day of the Seafarer campaign to celebrate the world’s seafarers whose tireless work keeps the global economy and supply chain moving. Last year, in light of the pandemic, the IMO had called upon Member States to recognize seafarers as key workers. This year’s theme, ‘A Fair Future for Seafarers,’ is a continuation of that conversation.
We brought together colleagues from across our organization, both at sea and on shore, to discuss what a fair future for seafarers means to them as well as challenges faced by seafarers across the maritime industry in the wake of COVID-19. Here are three main takeaways from the live virtual discussion:
IT’S PEOPLE, NOT SHIPS, THAT DELIVER THE WORLD’S GOODS
Behind every one of our 130+ vessels is a crew of about 25 seafarers who live and work onboard for months at a time away from their families. They are the heart behind the steel – the resilience, hard work and determination that continues to power the global supply chain. It is important to remember that seafarers are the unsung heroes who keep our global economy moving, everyday.
“Most of the goods in the world are carried by merchant vessels and people should understand that these merchant vessels are being operated by people - and these people are seafarers. Governments and ship owners need to reinforce infrastructures in place to support, assist and protect seafarers during this pandemic time.”
Captain Vitaly Vasilev, Master, Teekay Tankers
ESSENTIAL WORKERS WORK AT SEA TOO
As the frontline workers of the maritime industry carrying 90% of global trade, seafarers play a vital role in ensuring the global flow of goods that the world depends on. Yet despite ongoing efforts to ensure that seafarers are prioritized as essential workers, many governments around the globe still do not recognize them as such.
The pandemic has highlighted the critical need of not only extending the ‘essential’ title to seafarers, but also the benefits and prioritization that go along with that – such as port access, crew changeovers and repatriation and enabling access to vaccination to those who wish to receive it.
Seafarers have made many sacrifices over the years. They play an important part as you see in the pandemic or in any times of hardship. So, it’s important to recognize them, then and now.
Colin Barr, Director, Marine HR, Teekay Gas
VACCINATION ACCESS IS KEY TO ENABLING SEAFARERS TO MOVE THE WORLD’S GOODS SAFELY
Improving access to voluntary vaccinations is just one way of making vessels safer places to work. While some countries are facilitating vaccine roll outs for seafarers , there is a long way to go to ensure all seafarers who wish to receive the vaccine have the opportunity to do so. The disparity in vaccination access has presented ongoing challenges for seafarers who are required to cross international borders in order to facilitate crew changes and repatriations.
Teekay is constantly on the lookout for availability to vaccination and facilitating the access anywhere that is possible. We have to make sure that our ships and seafarers are safe and one sure short way to do it is by having our seafarers vaccinated if they chose to do so.
Rohit Kapoor, Vice President, Ship Management, Teekay Tankers
Ensuring a fair future for seafarers is a shared responsibility between all stakeholders in the maritime industry.
At Teekay, we continue to advocate for seafarers and provide access to resources that support their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. From diverting ships across great distances, to using some ships as floating quarantine hotels, our teams have worked tirelessly and relentlessly over the past year to find solutions and cater to individual port requirements in order to facilitate crew changeovers. While our efforts continue, governments around the globe have to come together with the IMO to truly acknowledge seafarers as essential workers and extend them the needed benefits that go along with that designation.
The pandemic has given the world a small glimpse into the life of a seafarer – from being confined to a small space, to not being able to see your family for an extended period of time. While we onshore grapple with these challenges, seafarers around the globe have been doing this the entirety of their career at sea.
To all seafarers – thank you for your patience, resilience and dedication you continue to show as you work tirelessly to keep our world moving. We celebrate you today and everyday.
Happy International Day of the Seafarer!