Day of the Seafarer……in contrast to National Maritime Day, a United States holiday, the Day of the Seafarer was adopted by the Conference of Parties to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978, held in Manila, Philippines, in June 2010, which adopted major revisions to the STCW Convention and Code. It was first celebrated in 2011 and has now been added to the annual list of United Nations Observances.
The effects of globalization and international transportation are widespread – both in the positive and negative as industries have been outsourced, creating jobs here, whilst losing jobs there. Today, however, we will not look at these pros and cons of globalization, but celebrate the job done by seafarers the world over in moving these commodities and products to market. The theme this year is, “It came by sea, I can’t live without it!”
As over 90% of goods travel overseas on ships, there will probably be more than one that you can’t live without – the coffee you may be sipping this morning or the wine you will have with dinner may be prime examples. Everything from the fruits and vegetables that we enjoy in mid-winter to the toys our children play with have been brought most of the way to us by ships. Those avocados that made the guacamole on your taco may well have been loaded at a distant port, carefully monitored in high tech reefer containers by seafarers and delivered to your restaurant or supermarket as if they were freshly picked. The examples are endless – but few outside the maritime industry may recognize them.
Every day there is a constant struggle for shipping companies to make money, for shipping unions to maintain a balance between membership and jobs and for individual seafarers to obtain and keep employment. For today, however, we set aside those differences and thank those seafarers – whether Filipino, Ukrainian, American, European, Indian or of any other country – that work long hours far from home to transport these goods to our doorsteps.