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Seafarers Matter

June 25 is IMO Day of the Seafarer, and the IMO is encouraging everyone to join the campaign and show that #SeafarersMatter. Under this theme, the campaign is engaging people responsible for the world’s ports and seafarer centers to demonstrate how much seafarers matter to them by featuring initiatives that support and promote seafarer welfare.

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has prepared a video message for the occasion, and he spoke to MarEx about why the day has personal meaning for him.

“Even as a young child, I was aware of ships and trade, growing up close to a port in the Republic of Korea. So it was natural for me to see the world of shipping as a career choice,” says Lim.

“My time at sea as a merchant seafarer has really informed the rest of my working life. I would say that this time allowed me to understand the importance of seafarers and their needs, as I then moved on to work in the government administration, before heading up the port of Busan and now as Secretary-General of IMO.

“As any former seafarer will tell you, we all share a special bond that links us to our time at sea. So, I am always keen to put seafarers at the center of IMO’s work.”

The Day of the Seafarer is a great opportunity for this. “This year, I am really pleased to see the focus on seafarer centers. These centers really can provide a small taste of home for seafarers of all nationalities – a sanctuary they can visit to, amongst other things, rest, call home and catch up with their loved ones on social media.

“When I was at sea, we did not have the advantages of technology we do today. Letters home took weeks. Today, mobile phones and internet connection are much prized, and this is illustrated by the interactive world map we have created for the Day of the Seafarer. It showcases best practices in seafarer support and welfare and is asking people to share the special things they do for seafarers and what services their organizations are offering to seafarers. This virtual map is creating an interactive web of safe havens for seafarers around the world.”

Looking back to his goals when he took up office, highlighting the desire to strengthen partnerships, Lim says: “I have always said that the work of IMO is a collaborative effort. I am honored to be serving as Secretary-General, but the work of IMO is also dependent on the cooperation and work of the IMO membership, the wide range of partners and stakeholders and the whole of the IMO Secretariat. This is something I have been keen to promote and will continue to do so.

“In all of this, seafarers are at the very heart of everything we do. Seafarers depend on the whole package of measures developed by IMO to ensure their safety and security and so that they too contribute towards sustainable and environment-sensitive shipping. As the Day of the Seafarer theme rightly says, seafarers matter.

Source: Maritime executive