IMO launches Year of the Seafarer

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) “launched” the theme for this year’s World Maritime Day – “2010: Year of the Seafarer” – at an event held at its London headquarters on 11 January 2010. Event was co-hosted with the International Shipping Federation (ISF) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). Year of the Seafarer to heralds new STCW revisions, as well.IMO Launches "2010: Year of the Seafarer" Speaking at the event, IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos said 2010 promised to be an auspicious and important year for the seafaring profession, with a diplomatic conference meeting in Manila in June to adopt amendments that will bring the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (the STCW Convention), and its associated Code, fully up to date with today’s expectations. Mr. Mitropoulos said that designating 2010 as the Year of the Seafarer would help to reassure those who work at the “sharp end” of the industry – the seafarers themselves – that those responsible for the international regulatory regime understand the extreme pressures seafarers face and that they approach their task with a genuine sympathy for the work that seafarers carry out. The theme had also been chosen, he said, to allow the maritime community to pay tribute to seafarers for their unique contribution to society and in recognition of the vital part they play in the facilitation of global trade. It would also add impetus to the “Go to Sea!” campaign, which was launched by IMO in November 2008, in association with the International Labor Organization, the “Round Table” of international shipping associations and ITF, to boost recruitment to the seafaring profession. A former seafarer himself, Mr. Mitropoulos said, “It is my firm belief that, despite the numerical decline in officer-level entrants, shipping remains a potentially exciting, rewarding and fulfilling career – a career that can take people almost anywhere, both in geographical terms and in terms of the sort of work they may finally find themselves doing. Seafaring is not only a satisfying and worthwhile career choice in itself, it is also a passport to a huge variety of related jobs ashore for which experience at sea will make one eminently qualified.” He concluded, “Seafarers deserve respect and recognition: let us resolve, during 2010, to ensure that this message is trumpeted loud and clear.” Those addressing the event included Mr. Peter Brady, Chairman of IMO’s Sub-Committee on Standards of Training and Watchkeeping, which is in session this week, Mr. Spyros Polemis, President of the ISF, and Mr. Jon Whitlow, representing the ITF. • Year of the Seafarer Heralds New STCW Revisions As the Year of the Seafarer dawns, the professional standing of seafarer's worldwide is set to be enhanced by the International Maritime Organisation's STW Sub-Committee completion of revisions to the 1995 Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Convention. At the IMO's official launch of the Year of the Seafarer in London last week, Rear Admiral Peter Brady, Director General of the Maritime Authority of Jamaica and chairman of the STW sub-committee, told delegates: "The rapid march of technology and the changing demands of an industry striving to be ever more competitive has meant that the global rules governing the training and certification of today's and tomorrow's seafarers had to be revised. It is therefore apt that the revision of the 1995 STCW Convention and Code should be completed in a year when the efforts and the professionalism of the world's seafarers are embraced worldwide." The STW Sub-Committee members, composed of maritime professionals from throughout the industry, fully understand the professional and social needs of today's seafarers. "They have the seafarers' interests close to their heart and this will be evident in the finished product," said R.Adm Brady. "As regulators of the shipping industry we have a duty to our seafarers to prepare and train them to a high enough standard that is commensurate with their role as a professional and highly valued asset." The main revisions are currently being finalised and the revised STCW Convention will be presented for approval to the IMO's Diplomatic Conference in Manila in June. Once the Convention is adopted the IMO plans to hold a series of seminars and workshops to familiarise seafarers with the new and amended standards. R.Adm Brady said: "The revised STCW rules will offer all relevant stakeholders the proper instruments by which to recruit, train and retain their sea-staff. At a time when the role of the seafarer is becoming even more respected, this can only be a good thing."