UN Day of the Seafarer Highlights Sacrifice of Key Workers at Sea During Pandemic

The 2020 Day of the Seafarer pays tribute to unsung heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic: the seafarers who continue to carry essential goods despite facing tremendous challenges, including being stranded on board. Organised by IMO, this year’s campaign calls on governments to take action and formally recognise seafarers as key workers.

On 25 June every year, the Day of the Seafarer turns the spotlight on the contribution seafarers make to world trade. With the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the services they provide are more important than ever. Seafarers play an essential role in maintaining the flow of vital goods, such as food, fuels and medical supplies, that people, everywhere, need.

This is why the 2020 campaign is calling on IMO Member States to recognize 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% 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 insisted.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has thanked and saluted seafarers everywhere for their work, and urged all countries in the world to honour seafarers by recognizing them as key workers and providing the necessary travel assistance to ensure safe crew changeovers and repatriations (download message from UN Secretary-General here.).

Webinar “Seafarers are Key Workers: Essential to Shipping, Essential to the World”

​In support of the Day of the Seafarer campaign, a webinar on the theme “Seafarers are key workers: Essential to shipping, essential to the world” will be held online on Friday 26 June. The webinar will address issues seafarers are facing during the pandemic, including crew changes and repatriation.

The webinar will be open to the public. Click here to access the webinar (the link will go live on the day). (Choose watch on the web).

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