This year, the Day of the Seafarer is paying tribute to the unsung heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic: the seafarers who continue to carry essential goods despite facing tremendous challenges, including being stranded onboard. Organised by IMO, this year's campaign calls on governments to take action and formally recognise seafarers as key workers.
The 2020 campaign is calling on IMO Member States to recognise seafarers as key workers - and to provide them with the support, assistance and travel options open to all key workers during the pandemic.
The campaign also seeks to raise awareness of the sacrifice of seafarers and the issues they face. Travel restrictions have left hundreds of thousands of seafarers stranded at sea, unsure when they will be able to return home. Many are fatigued and weary because their time at sea has been extended for months beyond the maximum stipulated in international conventions.
In his Day of the Seafarer message, IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim highlighted the unique and essential work of seafarers, who deliver 80 per cent of global trade by volume.
He praised the dedication, professionalism and resilience of seafarers, at a time when many are unable to be repatriated or replaced by relief crews. The secretary-general also emphasised the difficulties faced by seafarers, including denial of shore leave, difficulties in accessing medical care and, in some cases, the lack of personal protective equipment. "Despite all these challenges, seafarers have stayed on the job, 24/7", Mr. Lim said.
"Just like other key workers, seafarers are on the front line in this global fight. They deserve our thanks. But they also need – and deserve – quick and decisive humanitarian action from governments everywhere, not just during the pandemic, but at all times", Mr. Lim continued.
Mr. Lim has written to all IMO Member States, urging them to recognise all seafarers as "key workers".
This call was echoed by United Nations secretary-general António Guterres who thanked and saluted seafarers everywhere for their work, and urged all countries in the world to honour seafarers by recognising them as key workers and providing the necessary travel assistance to ensure safe crew changeovers and repatriations.
The Day of the Seafarer campaign is centred on social media. The 2020 hashtag is: #SeafarersAreKeyWorkers
This hashtag can be used by anyone engaging in the campaign to pay tribute to seafarers and thank them for their important role in these unprecedented times. Seafarers themselves can use it to showcase their own position at the front line of this global crisis and share their experience with the rest of the world. Shipping companies and port organizations are also invited to show their appreciation for seafarers.