Jamaica News: Seafarers aboard ships docked in Jamaica’s territorial waters were feted by the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ) on Monday, June 25, in observation of International Day of the Seafarer.
The day is celebrated on June 25 each year, with a special focus on the welfare of the men and women who risk their lives at sea in the transportation of goods and services used in the daily lives of the world’s population.
In an interview with JIS News, MAJ Director General, Rear Admiral Peter Brady, gave some insight into the activities that are undertaken on the day.
“We use the occasion to visit seafarers on ships in Jamaica. We go and talk with them, interact with them, give them a little encouragement and a little token to show that we care. That goes a long way with a seafarer in a foreign country when we show that their welfare is important to us,” he explained.
According to Admiral Brady, unlike shore-based occupations, seafaring is a demanding, stressful and high-risk profession.
“It is associated with long-term separation from home and families, adverse weather conditions, piracy, long working hours, loneliness and fatigue, which can pose a high risk of stress,” he said.
Admiral Brady referenced the 2018 theme, ‘Seafarers’ Well-being’, and pointed out that it speaks to not only the physical aspects of a seafarer’s life but also the mental side.
“They go away from home for very long periods. Sometimes they will sign on to a ship for four to six months, and if the conditions under which they work are not amenable to good living for health and safety, then that would introduce other issues such as mental problems,” he noted.
He added that they are subject to the same kinds of external factors that make people’s lives uncomfortable, but they do not have recourse to treatment and professional care as would a normal person ashore.
He said it was against this background that the theme was intended to bring the need to take better care of seafarers to shipowners.
Admiral Brady pointed out that it is important to ensure that seafarers’ salaries are paid on time, especially when families at home are depending on them, and that they can be assured that their business is being attended to in their absence.
He said it is also important for the seamen to be granted shore leave when their ship is in port to discharge or load cargo, as it is necessary for them to reconnect with other people in the world. Shore leave is allowing the crew to disembark a vessel for a designated period of time before the ship sails.
The Director General added that it would redound to the benefit of shipowners to invest in Internet service, indicating that although it is expensive, connectivity is important to the welfare of the seafarers.
“It is an added expense for the owners; however, the benefits of affording the ship’s crew the Internet far outweigh the cost, because you will have a contented crew who will, therefore, be happier at sea, produce more and show more loyalty to the shipping line.”
International Day of the Seafarer came into being during the 2010 Diplomatic Conference in the Philippines, which amended the International Convention on Standards of Training and Certification of Seafarers.
Admiral Brady, who chaired the 2010 conference, explained that it was decided that a day would be set aside to recognise the work of seafarers, who operate below the radar screen under extreme conditions but make significant contributions to the world’s economy.
Source: JIS News