Calling it a day

What happens when you wake up on any particular day and you realise that today is THAT day?

I’ve often wondered what goes into the creation of a day. Not in terms of how the sun rises and sets or anything else relating to the laws of nature – but rather: who decides on the creation of international days that recognise various topics or groups, and how does one go about getting the world to agree to mark it on their calendar?

Today is International Maritime Day 2021. The United Nations (UN), via the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), created World Maritime Day to celebrate the international maritime industry’s contribution towards the world’s economy, especially in shipping. The event’s date varies by year and country, but it is always held during the last week of September.

According to sources on the internet, World Maritime Day was first held on March 17, 1978 to mark the date of the IMO Convention’s entry into force in 1958. 

Traditionally (before the advent of COVID-19) a country would be chosen to host a parallel event. Last year would have seen South Africa step up to meet the challenge of hosting international maritime dignitaries had travel not been impeded by the pandemic.

As such the pomp and ceremony has been replaced by virtual commemorations and observances of the date. The theme for this year reflects a clear need to raise awareness of seafarersʹ crucial role in world trade and increase their visibility. The crew change crisis in 2020 highlighted seafarersʹ contribution as key and essential workers on the front line of delivering vital goods through a pandemic and in ordinary times. The international community has seen how the ability for shipping services and seafarers to ensure the functioning of the global supply chains has been central to responding to, and eventually overcoming, this pandemic.

Sadly, however, a day of observance is just that. Since the start of the pandemic we have observed two International Seafarer Days and now two World Maritime Days – and still seafarers are struggling against unfriendly regimes and port authorities in some places.

And so, as everyone scrambles to show that they know what day it is and prove that they care by sharing messages on social media and distributing press releases about how they intend to observe the day – we lose sight of the day’s underlying intention. Everyone simply observes the day and tomorrow carries on with their business as usual.

Well – next month is Maritime Month in South Africa and our challenge should be to act on the many resolutions we have made in conferences, workshops and seminars over the years that remain unfulfilled.

In fact – we should make all the days we have in our calendar count.

DATEDAY OF OBSERVATIONINCEPTION
23 MarchWorld Meteorological Day2021
2 MayWorld Tuna Day2016
5 JuneInternational Day for Fighting against IUU Fishing2016
8 JuneWorld Oceans Day1992
25 JuneInternational Day of the Seafarer2016
25 JulyWorld Drowning Prevention Day2021
30 JulyWorld Day against Trafficking in Persons2013
27 SeptWorld Tourism Day1980
SeptWorld Maritime Day1978
5 NovWorld Tsunami Awareness Day2015
LIST OF UNITED NATIONS DAY OF OBSERVANCES RELATING TO THE OCEAN

Weekly Press Review – 1 May 2015

The plight of the crew aboard the arrested vessel, the Agatis, has made headlines this week.

The vessel was arrested on March 17, en route from Mianmar to the Ivory Coast, and has been stranded at Three Anchor Bay in Cape Town ever since.  Conditions have deteriorated quickly for the 21 crew members aboard.  According to one crew member, Otto Lasrado, there is no clean drinking water left; no water to wash clothes or flush toilets; two months worth of waste is piling up and there is very little food left.

According to the crew’s lawyer, Alan Goldberg, conditions aboard are not good and the only chance the crew have of getting home to India is to pay for a ship to remove them from the Agatis and arrange for their own fare back to India.  As they have received no pay for several months, this is simply out of the question.

The owner of the vessel, Meranti Bahari PT, is in the midst of a severe financial crisis and the ships agent, Aquarius Maritime PTE Limited, from Singapore, and a supplier from United Arab Emirates arranged for the arrest in South African waters in an attempt to recoup their money. To make matters worse the ship is not allowed to enter Cape Town harbour as there is no security that the relevant fees will be paid.

The predicament of this crew also impacts on their families back home who rely on their income.  “We chose this line of work so that we could take care of our families and of our children.  Who is going to look after them now?” said Lasrado.

Within the maritime industry there is a continual attempt to throw the spotlight on our seafarers, their contribution to our economy and how hard they work in often less than ideal conditions.  Here is a group of men who have been let down by the very company that they work for and are now stranded far from home, friends and family, with no pay and no way of getting back home.  Where does the responsibility lie to help this crew and others in similar situations worldwide?

Press Wrap up – 28 June 2013

With a few delays in getting our Weekly Press Review out over the last month, herewith please find a wrap up of the media coverage of the maritime industry during June (since our last post of 7 June 2013). 

During the week ending 14th June,  The African Marine Debris Summit wrapped up in Kirstenbosch, Cape Town and although it did not really feature much in the press, one can’t help but feel that it should have.

In her opening remarks, Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Rejoice Mabudafhasi said, “Marine debris is not just an unsightly issue having a negative impact on tourism and human health but it is also responsible for deaths of a myriad of the creatures that inhabit the marine environment.”

Waste finding its way into our oceans is an ever-growing concern. Hopefully summits like these will not only draw attention to the problem, but also provide some possible solutions.

During the following week, the big news making headlines was the final outcome of the case against Hout Bay fishing magnate, Arnold Bengis, his son David and their overseas partner, Jeffrey Noll. The case, which has taken many years to reach this final stage, was brought against the three men for illegally exporting large amounts of west coast rock lobster from South Africa to the United States.

The United States has ordered that they pay an amount of R294 million in restitution to South Africa.

Desmond Stevens, acting head of fisheries for the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said, “It is a huge amount of money. South Africa’s biggest restitution in illegal fishing.” He hoped that the money would be put into the Marine Living Resources Fund to assist with the fight against poaching.

You may have seen the article written by Shaheen Moolla in our March/April issue which highlighted where he thought the money should go.

Although a slow process, it is good to see that those who try to steal and cheat and abuse our marine resources do eventually have to pay the price. And what a price.

Now we wait to see where that R294 million goes.

During the last week, the maritime industry celebrated International Day of the Seafarer. 

June 25 marked the International Day of the Seafarer. This year IMO, together with United Nations, celebrated the day with a campaign entitled: Faces of the Sea. The idea behind the campaign was to encourage both individuals and organisations to use social media as a means to highlight various activities at sea, through photographs and messages, and in this way acknowledge seafarers from around the world, celebrating them and thanking them for their efforts at sea.

In this way it was hoped that the sheer diversity and scale of products used in our everyday lives that travel by sea would be highlighted and that the 1.5 million seafarers that make this possible would be recognised for their tremendous efforts.

A clever use of the world of social media to support a group of men and women who often go unrecognised despite their valuable contribution, often made in less than ideal conditions.

Die Burger picked up on the initiative a ran a great story on some of South Africa’s seafarers.