The 25th of June was declared as the Seafarer’s day at the end of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) diplomatic conference held in Manila from 21st to 25th June 2010 to amend the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW). The annual event has since been spearheaded by the IMO and this special day is recognized by the United Nations as an observance day.

The day usually encourages governments, shipping organizations, companies and shipowners to appropriately promote the seafarers’ rights and take action to celebrate them meaningfully. This year:

IMO created an online survey to collect seafarers' feedback on their rights and whether they feel those rights are being implemented into operational reality. Furthermore, the organization launched a photo competition through social media, targeting at seafarers in order, to show us what a good day at sea looks like.

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.

Members of the European Community Shipowners’ Associations; UK Chamber of Shipping and the Royal Dutch Shipowners Association have each launched webpages signposting seafarers to mental health charities, chaplain services and support networks.

The move follows a study of more than 1000 seafarers by Yale University and the Sailor’s Society, where 26 per cent of seafarers said they had felt “down, depressed or hopeless”In May 2018, the UK Chamber of Shipping and seafarer’s trade unions launched detailed guidance for shipping companies on how to proactively support their seafarer’s mental health. 

The UK Chamber of Shipping’s spokesman Jonathan Roberts said:

A career at sea comes with extraordinary prospects and opportunities, and we should be ambitious in recruiting great talent to our industry.  But we must accept also that in some cases seafaring can be leave people feeling lonely and isolated. 

By launching these webpages we are helping to ensure seafarers know that we are on their side. 

Wellness at Sea e-learning platform came in time for Day of the Seafarer 2018 , to highlight good practice and encourage the development of strategies to tackle issues affecting seafarers’ mental health. Εarlier this year, SailorsSociety together with WellnessatSea also prepared an animation for some on how to Build and maintain relationships on board .

The ITF Seafarers Trust announced that it has commissioned a piece of important new research with Yale University. The project will examine risk factors associated with seafarers’ stress levels, depression and anxiety to reduce stigma around mental illness in shipping as well as the suffering of those affected. The ultimate goal is to identify factors in the sector that could be changed to reduce the risks and opportunities for intervention to prevent harm. Furthermore the organization announced that in partnership with the World Maritime University, they developed the Maritime Welfare (MARI-WEL) Professional Development Programme , the first programme of its kind to deliver a comprehensive overview of the topics and issues that relate to seafarer welfare.

MARI-WEL is designed to meet the needs of anyone who works with or interacts with seafarers, both onboard and onshore. This includes ship management companies, crewing agencies, port chaplains, and welfare providers.

MARI-WEL is the first programme of its kind to take such a comprehensive look at seafarers’ welfare. It is an important step in supporting the work of the IMO, the International Labour Organization, the ITF Seafarers’ Trust and all other stakeholders focused on the welfare of seafarers.

Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of the World Maritime University

InterManager has been supporting a year-long project being carried out by Solent University in Southampton in examining seafarers’ welfare which focusses on mentoring seafarers. The Mentoring Seafarers’ Project is looking at what the industry is offering in terms of mentoring provision, including both formal and informal schemes, and highlighting how these can help to combat issues faced at sea in order to improve the wellbeing of seafarers.

To ensure out seafarers are doing the most effective job, it is important they are given the necessary support to overcome these. However, it is important to remember seafaring is a very rewarding and fulfilling job. Similar to other industries, mental health is a challenge that must be supported and not ignored.  I welcome the IMO’s excellent campaign this year.

InterManager Secretary-General Capt Szymanski

INTERCARGO encouraged its members to consider special actions and show our appreciation to seafarers and their families. INTERCARGO has requested its members to engage with their seafarers to voice their concerns, in order to assist the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in tackling holistically Seafarers’ wellbeing issues and treating seafarers with compassion by the various stakeholders in the shipping industry.

Seafarers' Rights International (SRI), the centre spearheading international research on the seafarer and maritime law, also joined the shipping communityin offering a message of support for IMO’s Day of the Seafarer.

We are delighted to see that in its 2018 programme the IMO has placed the seafarer firmly on the agenda. We urge all sectors of the international shipping community as a whole to support efforts to represent their interests, and to be continually aware of the seafarers’ important role - not just for the Day of the Seafarer but for 365 days of the year.

WISTA showed its appreciation to the seafarers all over the world through a meaningful tweet, thanking both women and men working at sea!

The European Commissioner for EU Transport, Violeta Bulc, send her message also via her tweeter account sending her warm support to all women & men working at sea. She further stressed that improving working conditions for seafarers on board EU-flagged ships stays one of the main objectives of our European maritime policy!

Last but not least, Shipowners P&I Club, stressed the fact that mental health continues to be a cause of Club claims and because mental health problems are under reported

Claims related to poor mental health are becoming more apparent to Shipowners Club. So, we have partnered with industry leaders to try and assist seafarers achieve positive mental health whilst on board by raising awareness of this issue.

said Louise Hall, Shipowners Club

Hopefully, the industry is highly concerned about the importance of seafarer wellness and there are already many campaigns and industry’s initiatives trying to address crew wellbeing issues:

  • Sailors’ Society offers free app for their “Wellness at Sea” coaching programme
  • ‘Fit for Life’ DVD by Steamship Mutual focuses on the Physical Wellness
  • HRAS ‘Managing Traumatic Stress ’publication aims to improve the mental health of seafarers.
  • ISWAN offers immediate response to seafarer calls via its 24-hour multilingual helpline ‘SeafarerHelp’
  • Mission to Seafarers launches regularly the results of a ‘Seafarers Happiness Index’ which measures happiness and wellbeing on board.

25th of June is only once a year. We all have to consider what happens during the rest of the year and take proactive steps to support seafarers' tough job! Let's bear in mind that seafarers are the driving force of an industry on which everyone, everywhere relies for the goods we all need and want.

You may find more highlights of the day via the hashtags: #seafarers #DayoftheSeafarer,#SupportSeafarersWellbeing,#GoodDayAtsea on Twitter