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On Day of the Seafarer, IMO Emphasizes Environmental Protection

Day of the Seafarer
Courtesy Schmidt Ocean Institute

Published Jun 25, 2023 9:13 PM by The Maritime Executive

Every year, the global maritime community celebrates the tireless efforts of seafarers, who work night and day to deliver 90 percent of all international trade. Seafarers leave their families behind to earn their living in a challenging physical environment, often with long hours and limited creature comforts. The International Maritime Organization organizes a celebration of their efforts on June 25, and this year, the Day of the Seafarer centers on crewmembers' role in protecting the marine environment. 

"Seafarers have always played a critical role in helping to protect the health of our ocean and planet, and that role is increasingly important. Every day at sea, they help to enforce IMO's environment related treaties by implementing rules on garbage, and sewage, and air pollution prevention," said IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim. "This year, as we celebrate the 50-year anniversary of our main environmental instrument – the MARPOL Convention - renewing our firm commitment towards the protection of our environment, this remains even more relevant."

Seafarers can also play a critical role in MARPOL by acting as environmental whistleblowers. When they inform law enforcement authorities of violations aboard their own ships, they help deter the persistent practice of "magic pipe" bilgewater dischages. In the U.S., seafarers who alert the U.S. Coast Guard to oily waste dumping may be rewarded if fines are recovered from the vessel operator.

Visibility on social media

To highlight that the marine environment is worth protecting and that seafarers have a key role to play, IMO invited mariners to mark the Day of the Seafarer 2023 by sharing photographs of themselves on board. The concept is to portray - through their eyes - how the work they undertake protects the oceans every day. 

Others within the maritime industry and the wider public were also encouraged to take part in the social media campaign to show their appreciation for seafarers.

The International Chamber of Shipping also used the opportunity to highlight the benefits of a career at sea. Recruiting is critical to ensuring a steady workforce, and the attractiveness of the seafaring life is still strong. ICS highlighted the opportunities of the seafaring profession for a good salary, travel, career development training, and the sense of community that can be found on board many ships. 

"Seafarers are vital for making sure our everyday lives can continue, from the food we eat, the fuel we use to heat our homes, the clothes we wear and more. We are able to access products and essential supplies thanks to seafarers who operate merchant ships that transport these goods around the world," emphasized ICS.