Day of the Seafarer Celebrated This Week
Seafarers are the unsung heroes of shipping, the industry on which everyone everywhere relies for the goods and commodities we all need and want. But it’s a tough and demanding job which sometimes can put pressure on mental health.
This is why, this year, in 2018, the International Maritime Organization joined the growing momentum within shipping to address the important issue of seafarers’ wellbeing.
A seafarer’s job can be rewarding and fulfilling, but it can also have its more difficult moments. Many different factors can affect the quality of life at sea. They include shore leave, the threat of abandonment, prompt payment of wages, the prospect of criminalization, and even things like internet access and provision of exercise facilities on board ship.
“Day of the Seafarer 2018 provides a platform to advocate for higher standards of welfare and enable shipping companies and others within the industry to show how they provide a good working environment for seafarers and thereby make a positive contribution to their wellbeing,” said IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim, in his annual Message for the Day of the Seafarer.
The government of Canada joined in the celebration of the ninth annual Day of the Seafarer. In honor of the event, Marc Garneau, Canada’s Minister of Transport, invited Canadians to show their support to all seafarers in Canada and around the world.
“I know firsthand that the life of a seafarer can be challenging,” he said, “and I am pleased to see the International Maritime Organization is highlighting well-being and mental health for this year’s Day of the Seafarer.”
The theme for this year’s Day of the Seafarer was well-being and mental health. Transport Canada was a contributor to and adopter of the Maritime Labor Convention of the International Labour Organization, Garneau noted, which ensures safe working conditions, appropriate accommodations, and financial protection for seafarers.
Transport Canada has put rigorous measures in place to ensure seafarers are treated fairly, have safe working conditions, and are in good health both mentally and physically. The department’s regulations aim to reduce the impacts of fatigue by imposing mandatory rest periods for a vessel’s master and crew. Under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, crew members must meet the criteria to obtain a marine medical certificate, which takes into account the unique nature of the seafaring environment and the impacts a medical condition may have on an individual’s ability to perform safety-critical duties. Physicians must report any medical conditions that may constitute a hazard to marine safety to Transport Canada.