On this Day of the Seafarer, I applaud the contribution of the 1.5 million merchant seafarers whose work is central to the livelihoods of billions of people around the world.
The vast majority of the world’s cargo must be transported by sea. This task is difficult enough in safe waters, but in high-risk areas, where seafarers live with the constant threat of piracy, it can be deadly.
I have made addressing this complex problem a priority in the UN’s action agenda for the coming five years. United Nations agencies, including the International Maritime Organization (IMO), have achieved real progress by working with partners to combat piracy. But we must do more to offer solutions that include security, deterrence and alternative livelihoods.
At the same time, we must recognize the outstanding courage of seafarers who continue their work amidst formidable peril.
The IMO has also developed a framework of measures to make shipping safer and cleaner than ever before. Merchant seafarers carry out these measures with skill, dedication and competence where it counts – on board ships.
As we mark this Day immediately following the “Rio+20” United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, let us acknowledge the contributions that seafarers have made in significantly improving the shipping industry’s environmental performance. IMO has adopted more than 20 international conventions that regulate the environmental impact of shipping. They cover a number of critical issues, including emissions of exhaust gases into the atmosphere, the use of harmful anti-fouling paints on the hulls of ships, discharge of sewage, garbage dumping and oil pollution. The most important of these measures are now in force and apply to more than 90 per cent of the global fleet. Such results are all the more impressive considering the recent massive expansion in seaborne trade.
On this Day of the Seafarer, let us celebrate the brave women and men, from master to deck hand, from sandy shores to the deepest ocean blue, from all corners of the world, who make it possible for the shipping industry to underpin our global economy and foster greater progress for all.