ISWAN 2023 Seminar to Mark 50th Anniversary of Finnish Seamen’s Service

The International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network’s (ISWAN) annual seminar in Helsinki this November will include a celebration of 50 years of the Finnish Seamen’s Service (FSS)


Published Oct 9, 2023 5:06 PM by The Maritime Executive


The ISWAN 2023 Seminar will be held at the Scandic Marina Congress Center in Helsinki on Thursday 16th November. This year’s theme is: 'Addressing the maritime recruitment crisis: Seafarer wellbeing in a changing world', with the seminar taking a solutions-focused approach to exploring how the maritime sector needs to address the recruitment and retention gap, with seafarers’ welfare at the heart of all discussions.

Hosting the ISWAN 2023 Seminar this year, the Finnish Seamen's Service (FSS) stands as an emblematic institution in the Finnish maritime world, having been built upon a rich history of serving seafarers. The history of seamen's service in Finland expands beyond 150 years and was carried out by multiple organisations. This work culminated in the establishment of FSS in 1973 as the Finnish Government drafted the Seamen's Service Act, making this year particularly monumental for FSS as it marks the organisation’s 50th anniversary. FSS is committed to enhancing the physical and mental wellbeing of seafarers, a commitment that underscores FSS’s participation as co-hosts of the pivotal ISWAN seminar.

Sampsa Sihvola, CEO of The Finnish Seamen's Service, said: ‘Our collaboration with ISWAN is more than a partnership; it's a reflection of our deep-rooted commitment to the holistic wellbeing of seafarers. The maritime industry, now more than ever, is at a crucial juncture. Understanding the pressing nature of the recruitment and retention crisis is a key challenge we need to solve together. We are working with ISWAN and industry experts to devise strategies and solutions that champion the wellbeing of seafarers while simultaneously steering the maritime sector towards a sustainable and prosperous horizon.’

A number of industry experts have been confirmed as speakers and panellists for the seminar, with more to be announced soon. Those currently confirmed are:

Session 1: The voices of seafarers

  • Panel Host: Jason Zuidema – ISWAN Trustee; Executive Director, NAMMA; General Secretary, ICMA
  • Melanie White – Former superyacht chef; Co-founder, Seas the Mind
  • Mika Behm – Shop Supervisor, Eckerö - M/S Finlandia
  • Suneeti Bala – Former Chief Engineer; Trustee, International Women Seafarer's Foundation
  • Tommy Björklund – Seafarer, Neste & Writer, FSS Magazine Vapaavahti

Session 2: Fair working conditions

  • Panel Host: Charles Boyle – ISWAN Trustee; Director of Legal Services, Nautilus International
  • Andrew Stephens – Executive Director, Sustainable Shipping Initiative
  • Isabelle Rickmers – Founder & CEO, TURTLE
  • Maria Carrera Arce – Research Associate, World Maritime University
  • One more speaker to be confirmed

Session 3: Inclusive culture

  • Panel Host: Karen Waltham – ISWAN Trustee; HR Director/Independent People Management Consultant
  • Dr. Caitlin Bentley – Lecturer in AI Education, King's College London
  • Daniel Smith – Founder, NeurodiversAtSea.org
  • Susanne Justesen – Project Director, Human Sustainability, Global Maritime Forum

Session 4: Changing technologies - Impact on wellbeing

  • Panel Host: Sue Henney – ISWAN Trustee; Head of Marketing, IDWAL Marine
  • Catherine Logie – Direct to Consumer Services Director, Ocean Technologies Group
  • Dr. Christos Kontovas – Reader in Sustainable Maritime Transportation and Logistics, Liverpool John Moores University
  • Rob Parkin – Business Development Specialist, BazePort
  • Chirag Bahri – International Operations Manager, ISWAN

The seminar is free to attend and offers valuable opportunities for networking, but it will be streamed online for those unable to attend in person. Those planning to attend in person should register here: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/iswan-2023-seminar-annual-members-meeting-tickets-663091774347. Registration details for the live stream will be announced at a later date.

ISWAN’s 2023 Seminar is sponsored by: Silver Sponsors Bahri, Isle of Man Ship Registry and Nautilus International; Bronze Sponsors BazePort, Emarat Maritime, GENCO, Haque & Sons, London P&I Club, NorthStandard and Scorpio Group; and Travel Sponsor ATPI. Information about the benefits of sponsoring this event can be found here.

Members of ISWAN will come together the following day, Friday 17th November, for ISWAN’s 2023 Annual Members’ Meeting. More information about both events can be found here:

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