Superintendent of Pilotage at the Port Authority of Jamaica, Dr Hortense Ross-Innerarity, is calling for continued collaboration between governments and the shipping community to develop and support initiatives to improve the welfare of seafarers.
She said it is important to continue the conversation to engender a culture of awareness, inclusion, acceptance, and recognition of those individuals who work or travel on a boat or ship on the sea, irrespective of gender, nationality, colour, race, ethnicity, religion, age, or rank.
“These are known factors that have been and continue to adversely affect the health and well-being of seafarers. They demand our urgent attention,” she said, noting that intervention is required at all levels.
Dr. Ross-Innerarity, who is a seafarer, was addressing a recent webinar on seafarers’ welfare hosted by the Maritime Authority of Jamaica.
Her comments in support of the theme for World Maritime Day 2021, ‘Seafarers at the Core of Shipping’s Future’, were a call to action on behalf of seafarers around the world, whose health and general well-being have been challenged in recent times.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO), which is the United Nations (UN) specialised agency for world maritime affairs, has reported that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has put seafarers around the world in precarious situations, with many being stranded at sea beyond the end of their original contracts and unable to be repatriated to their home countries due to travel restrictions.
This, the IMO said, has led to a growing humanitarian crisis and significant concerns for the safety of seafarers and shipping.
The organisation has intervened by urging its member states to designate seafarers as key workers to facilitate travel between ships that constitute their workplace and their countries of residence.
Jamaica is one of the first countries to facilitate this process by making the necessary legislative amendments to the Shipping Act.
Dr. Ross-Innerarity, in outlining the work of seafarers and their contribution to the development of the maritime industry, said that they belong to an international group of people with one common purpose, which is to facilitate trade via seaborne transportation.
She noted that seafarers serve “in various capacities on different types of ships transporting different types of cargo to different types of ports, at times navigating through adverse weather conditions, heightened maritime security threats and, today, a global pandemic”.
The Superintendent of Pilotage said that the act of receiving, stowing, transporting, and delivering cargo safely to a destination port can be considered as the primary objective of the captain and the crew of the vessel.
“It means, therefore, that success in international trade and the growth experience within the maritime industry, over the years, have been and continue to be underpinned by the sacrifices and contributions of seafarers globally,” Dr. Ross-Innerarity contended.
The IMO has declared 2021 a year of action for seafarers, who are facing unprecedented hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, despite their vital role as key workers for global supply chains.