IMO has chosen to make 2021 a year of action for seafarers, who are facing unprecedented hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, despite their vital role as key workers for global supply chains.
The World Maritime 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.
The focus on seafarers comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has placed extraordinary demands on seafarers, with hundreds of thousands of men and women stranded on ships for months beyond their original contracts, unable to be repatriated due to national travel restrictions. A similar number of seafarers are unable to join ships and earn a living. This crew change crisis, which has been ongoing for nearly a year, is a humanitarian emergency that threatens the safety of shipping (read more here).
Throughout the year, the World Maritime Theme will also put the spotlight on other issues related to the human element of shipping, including the safety and security of life on board ships, seafarers’ well-being, and the importance of ensuring an appropriately trained and qualified workforce, ready to meet the challenges and opportunities of digitalization and automation.
Highlighting in blue
The IMO headquarters will be lit blue on World Maritime Day, 30 September 2021, as part of efforts to highlight seafarers and their core role in shipping and its future. Going forward, the IMO building, including the Seafarer Memorial, will be bathed in blue light on each World Maritime Day as a symbolic initiative to unite the maritime community and raise awareness of the vital contribution of shipping to the world.
Message from UN Secretary-General
In a message issued on World Maritime Day, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: «I renew my appeal to Governments to address their plight by formally designating seafarers and other marine personnel as “key workers”, ensuring safe crew changes, implementing established protocols, and allowing stranded seafarers to be repatriated and others to join ships.» (Read more here)
Message from IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim
Launching the World Maritime theme, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said more Governments must step up to end the crew change crisis (click here for the full text ).