With this year’s World Maritime Day addressing the integral role of seafarers in shaping the future of shipping, I, and everyone at Wallem, would first like to thank and salute all seafarers for the crucial work they are doing in the present.
In what has been the most challenging period in recent history for many of us, these brave women and men have sacrificed more than most, facing unthinkable circumstances to ensure the global supply chain remains intact, the wheels of trade keep turning and our supermarket shelves stay stocked.
Despite seafarers undeniably qualifying as ‘key workers’ in our eyes, governments are not affording them the respect and recognition that their efforts so clearly merit. The ongoing crew-change crisis, which has directly affected many of Wallem’s own seafarers, highlights the need for an international conversation on crew welfare. In the meantime, governments must collaborate to facilitate crew changes and ensure that ship personnel can access critical services and assistance – including medical care, emotional support, shore leave and repatriation – whenever required.
It is often said that shipping only makes mainstream news for the wrong reasons, and the crew-change crisis, which has received widespread media coverage, certainly fits this description. Looking ahead to a time when this regrettable situation has been resolved, the onus will be on the maritime industry to once again be able to portray itself as the exciting, dynamic and vital sector that it is – a sector that, under normal circumstances, has so much to offer to young and ambitious cadets.
However, changing the narrative is only the beginning. Shipping companies will also have to cooperate with local governments and schools to recruit the brightest talents and develop them for seagoing positions, providing them with the tools and training they need to manage the ships of the future. Moreover, to inspire loyalty, the industry will have to deliver on its promises, with companies listening to their crew more closely than ever and making seafarer well-being their absolute priority.
As shipping today celebrates seafarers and reflects on their place at the core of the industry’s future, we would like to reiterate our gratitude for their tireless, selfless contribution to society in the here and now. In addition, we extend our thanks to their families, whose continued patience and support during this most difficult of periods have given seafarers the energy and motivation to perform the work on which we all rely. To seafarers, to their families and to a brighter future for both.
Source: John-Kaare Aune, Interim CEO, Wallem Group