HE JOB of a seafarer is not exactly a walk in the park.”

I usually cite this quote from the Supreme Court case of Oriental Shipmgt. vs Bastol (G.R. No. 186289 June 29, 2010) as opening statement during my paralegal lectures on seafarers’ rights.

The quote emphasizes the Supreme Court’s view on the nature of the seafarer’s work: “What makes the job more difficult, aside from exposure to fluctuating temperatures caused by variant weather changes, the job obviously entails laborious manual tasks conducted in a moving ship, which makes for increased work-related stress. All these factors may have exacerbated a seafarer’s medical condition.”

During my recent virtual lecture with maritime students of John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University in Molo, Iloilo City, I discussed the reality of their profession that a vessel has always been identified as a high-risk workplace.

The industry remains fraught with health and safety hazards that increase seafarers’ risks of accidents, illnesses and mortality, while others may go missing or die in maritime disasters.

The European Maritime Safety Agency declared in a report  that there were 745 work-related fatalities among maritime workers and nearly 9,000 persons injured between 2011 and 2020.

Some are exploited and subjected to discrimination, abuse, maltreatment, and unfair labor practices.

Pope Francis earlier said in a message that without seafarers, the global economy would come to a standstill; and without fishermen, many parts of the world would starve.

However, Pope Francis said that they face the seafaring dangers of storms and piracy, long periods of time away from their families and working conditions that are often harsh and low-paying.

Despite said risks, the seafarer, like other overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), is often looked up to as one of today’s heroes who, through huge remittances in billions of dollars they earn, have propped up our economy.

The sea-based sector’s remittance comprises at least 22 percent of the total OFW dollar remittances.

Records from the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed the sea-based sector’s remittances for the past five years:  $6,870,827,000 in 2017; $6,139,512,000 in 2018; $6,539,246,000 in 2019; $6,353,522,000 in 2020; and $6,545,002,000 in 2021.

The data showed that remittances increased in 2018 by $731,315,000, then increased in 2019 by $399,734,000, then decreased in 2020 by $185,724,000, then increased in 2021 by $191,480,000.

The Scalabrini International Migration Network recently engaged in an online campaign dubbed as “No Shipping, No Shopping” that coincides with the celebration of the International Day of the Seafarer led by International Maritime Organization.

In 2010, the Conference of Parties to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) adopted a resolution establishing the Day of the Seafarer every June 25, which recognizes the valuable contribution of seafarers  to international trade and  world economy.

The international shipping industry is the life blood of the global economy as it is responsible for the carriage of around 90 percent of world trade.

Without shipping, intercontinental trade, the bulk transport of raw materials, and the import/export of affordable food and manufactured goods would simply not be possible.

For most merchant ships trading internationally transporting every kind of cargo, it is estimated that there is one Filipino seafarer for every four to five complements on board a vessel at any time.

The Philippines is still considered as the major supplier of maritime labor globally.

Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) data indicate that the total number of seafarers deployed overseas from the country reached 376,663 in 2017; 337,502 in 2018; 469,996 in 2019 and 217,223 in 2020.

Aside from the Day of the Seafarer every June 25, the Philippines also celebrate National Seafarers’ Day (NSD) every last Sunday of September.

Then President Fidel V. Ramos issued on July 9, 1996 Proclamation No. 828 declaring Aug. 18 as NSD; the Stella Maris was tasked to coordinate with the public and private sector in activities related to the celebration of said event.

The purpose of the Proclamation is to give due recognition to the vital role of Filipino seafarers towards the development of the Philippines as a maritime country.

Later, Proclamation No.1094 was issued in 1997 by President Ramos which moved NSD to every last Sunday of September every year.

The country will be celebrating the 27th National Seafarers’ Day this year.

Source: https://www.panaynews.net/seafarers-job-not-a-walk-in-the-park/

(LONDON) — The maritime world is changing, fast. Ships are now operating greener, with greater digitization, and with more diverse crews. As the lifeblood of the shipping industry, seafarers are at the heart of this evolution, implementing new regulations, learning new skills and adopting safer, more efficient working practices. As the world’s merchant fleet traverses the oceans, the crews on these ships continue their career journey.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is focusing on seafarers’ experiences, voyages and journeys as the theme of the 2022 Day of the Seafarer, recognized on June 25, drawing attention to how the onboard working environment continues to change. This focus aligns with United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

IMO photo

This year’s Day of the Seafarer theme — “Your Voyage, Then and Now, Share Your Journey” — invites seafarers across the world to share images and information about what truly resonates with them — whether a positive experience or challenging circumstances.

“Every seafarer’s journey is unique. Yet many of the challenges and opportunities are shared,” said IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim. “On this Day of the Seafarer, we can look to the future. Seafarer’s voyages are changing — in the form of new technologies and equipment, increasing use of alternative fuels and further responsibilities for a greener and more sustainable future for the industry and for the marine environment.”

As a former seafarer himself, the secretary-general is aware that maritime journeys can extend beyond being at sea to a career on land, and he encourages all seafarers — past and present — to be a part of the event. “I invite you to share photos from your first voyage and your most recent voyage on social media. We want to see how far you have come in your journey and celebrate your progress,” he said.

Ongoing challenges

Lim added, “On the International Day of the Seafarer … it is important that we all remember the challenges that seafarers have faced over the past two years and are still facing, including difficulties to effect crew changes, lack of designation as key workers and inability to access medical care and vaccines.

“I also remain concerned about the seizure of vessels engaged in legitimate trade outside established legal processes. I urge all member states to use relevant diplomatic channels to resolve their differences so that international shipping and especially seafarers are not unduly impacted. As I have said in the past, seafarers and shipping should not become collateral victims of larger political issues. The welfare of seafarers and the need for international shipping to move freely and unhindered is critical to the continuous operation of global supply chains, for the benefit of all peoples of the world.”

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “Seafarers worldwide have faced immense challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic — including contracts extended long beyond their expiry dates and maximum periods of service, and challenges related to vaccinations, medical care and shore leave. This year’s theme — ‘Your Voyage, Then and Now’ — is an opportunity to recognize the vital role seafarers play, and look to the future.

“Above all, this means listening to seafarers themselves. They know better than anyone their needs and what this industry needs to do to address key challenges. This includes the expansion of social protection, better working conditions, addressing the crew-change crisis, adopting new digital tools to enhance safety and efficiency, and making this industry greener and more sustainable,” he continued. Read the full speech here.

Join the campaign

As in previous years, the 2022 Day of the Seafarer event will predominantly be held on social media to draw attention to the contribution that seafarers make to shipping and world trade.

Participants in the campaign can use the hashtag for 2022 “#SeafarerJourney” or the regular hashtag “#DayOfTheSeafarer” and join in the conversation.

Seafarers are invited to post two photos using the hashtags: one of their first voyage and another of their most recent voyage. We would also like to know what has changed during your maritime voyage. Is shipping greener? Is the technology better? Are you more skilled? What have you learned?

Supportive organizations, shipping companies and port organizations are also invited to show their appreciation for seafarers by resharing their posts or using the hashtags and discussing the importance of seafarer journeys.

Members of the public are encouraged to post about the many ways in which seafarer journeys benefit their lives (e.g. bringing them food, electronics, medicines, etc.) using the same hashtags.

Photos and posts can be shared on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram – and tagging the IMO will allow it to view and reshare some of the posts.

– International Maritime Organization

Digital access on seafarers – 25 June, 2018: A new report looking at crew connectivity on ships has revealed the emotional and operational impact on professional seafarers who are often away for up to six months at a time with limited opportunities to interact digitally with friends and family.

International maritime charity Sailors’ Society, which helps seafarers and their families with welfare and practical support, and Inmarsat, the global mobile satellite company, have worked with researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London, to examine the effect on seafarers who have limited or non-existent digital access.

Researchers for this latest study, “Navigating Everyday Connectivities at Sea”, used an immersive study approach on board two container ships for 10 days, one with on board Wi-Fi capabilities and one without.  They looked at how seafarers use mobile phones and other digitally enabled devices in their daily lives during long periods at sea, and the opportunities and risks that such usage introduces.

The results revealed the fundamental importance of reliable connectivity and the impact it has on mental well-being, operational efficiency and safety, as well as its critical role in attracting new talent to the industry.

The report showed that access to Wi-Fi aboard ships – even limited – helped reduce some of the emotional stresses that come with separation from families.  However, the research also showed that where there were weekly limits of connectivity, this forced seafarers to ration their allowance to certain periods or to prioritise contact with friends.  Restricting usage also meant that domestic issues could not be resolved immediately or in real time, adding to personal stress or anxiety.

The ability to connect with family on a regular basis while away was also understood to ease transition into home life when returning from sea. In particular, being in frequent contact allowed people to keep up to date with everyday mundane events and activities at home, minimising the feeling that they were missing out on important life events.

In addition, one of the report’s key findings was how connectivity is becoming a significant factor in recruitment particularly for those entering the industry. Young people – who have been brought up with constant connectivity – are viewing an ability to get online as a significant deciding factor as to whether they commit to a career at sea.

One of the historic arguments from ship owners for not providing on-board connectivity has been that it disrupts work and rest patterns. However, this latest research shows that, in fact, not having reliable on-board internet impacts such patterns. It found that if the only method of digitally engaging with kin and friendship networks is through personal mobile phones, seafarers would connect when the ship was within mobile signal range, regardless of the time of day, external factors, work or rest hours.

“Digital connectivity at sea has been one of the major talking points of the decade in the maritime industry, which has been slow to adopt technology enabling improvements in connectivity across the world’s commercial fleet,” said Dr Rikke Bjerg Jenson, one of the principal researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London. “While several studies have used surveys to try to establish the rate of these improvements and their wide-ranging implications, none – to our knowledge – has taken observations of crew behaviour and conversations with seafarers as their starting point.

Digital access on seafarers

Sailors’ Society CEO Stuart Rivers said: “This study offers valuable insights into the huge impact that connectivity can have on seafarers’ well-being, which is of vast importance to the maritime industry. We all have a duty of care to those who are the foundation of our businesses – and with mental health playing a key role in their decision-making abilities, if we neglect that duty the consequences can be deadly and costly.”

“With 1.65million seafarers employed at sea and an industry which is responsible for carrying 90% of total global trade; improving operational efficiency, impacted by crew welfare, is of global economic concern”, said Drew Brandy, Senior Vice President, Maritime Market Strategy at Inmarsat. “In terms of future sustainability, the industry needs to consider the significant expectations of the next wave of talent into the industry who will see access to online as a major factor in their career decisions.”




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