Ladies and gentlemen,
For the twelfth time, we celebrate the International Day of the Seafarer on the 25th of June.
Since its launch in 2011, the day has focused public attention on the contribution made by seafarers to the entire global community and this year’s theme celebrates maritime voyages and journeys.
Every day, hundreds of thousands of seafarers are underway on ships, while others take their well-deserved break – getting ready for their next voyage. Their ships are key movers of global trade, and engines of the global economy, transporting cargoes such as food, medicines, electronics and more.
Without seafarers, there would be no shipping and this day, every year, gives us a chance to recognize and pay tribute to seafarers everywhere, whatever their voyage.
Shipping and the call of the oceans, form a way of life. It is a meaningful, important career that provides a solid foundation for life and offers endless opportunities to learn and progress.
This noble profession is something that I hold close to my heart and for many of us, our voyages are the start of a lifelong maritime journey.
My own maritime journey has enriched my life. It allowed me to gain skills as a seafarer on ships and then to apply that knowledge and experience ashore. My journey took me from serving as a cadet at the Korean Maritime Academy to studying at the World Maritime University.
I served in the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries in the Republic of Korea and represented my country as a delegate at IMO meetings. Then, on to the Port of Busan Authority, where I was its president, before arriving at my current role as Secretary-General.
Each seafarer’s journey is unique. Yet many of the challenges and opportunities are shared.
After two years, the COVID-19 pandemic still presents a challenging working environment, with continuing difficulties in conducting crew changes, and gaining access to medical care and shore leave. IMO continues to urge States to support seafarers by designating them as key workers, so that every seafarer’s maritime journey can move into smoother waters.
On this Day of the Seafarer, we also look to the future. New technologies, new equipment, and the need to make shipping greener will provide new challenges and opportunities. I am sure you will rise to those challenges and pave the way for more sustainable shipping in the years to come.
This year’s Day of the Seafarer theme is “Your voyage – then and now. Share your journey” and I invite you to share photos from your first voyage and your most recent voyage on social media.
You may be new to the profession or perhaps you have been sailing for decades.
We want to hear from you. Please tag IMO in your posts so we can see how far you have come in your journey – and celebrate your progress.
We invite everyone to use the hashtag #SeafarerJourney, whether you are a seafarer yourself or paying tribute to them.
I look forward to seeing your pictures, reading your comments and enjoying our voyage together.