Authorities urge seafarers to report abuses, deprivation at sea

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Seafarers, or those who work on ships, are being urged to know their rights and report any infringements to the authorities.

Seafarers play a pivotal role in global trade but face severe challenges, such as having to endure long working hours and hazardous conditions at sea; in addition, sometimes their wages are not paid and they can go without basic necessities such as food and water.

“All seafarers, I urge you to know your rights. Ask questions and seek guidance,” Culley Greene declared. Green is the Registrar of Ships, a position set in place since 2021 at the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD).

A seminar was held at the Arthur Chung Conference Center on Tuesday to observe “Day of the Seafarer” (Photo: News Room/ June 25, 2024)

Speaking at an event to mark “Day of the Seafarer”, Greene said sometimes seafarers are abandoned.

“…together let us strive to create a more sustainable and supportive environment for those who dedicate their lives to the seas,” Greene said.

Every year, “Day of the Seafarer” is observed on June 25. This year, the theme is “Seafarers Contribution to Making the Maritime Sector a Safer Workplace”.

According to the International Chamber of Shipping, globally there are an estimated 1.8 million seafarers serving on merchant ships

In Guyana, Green said while the number of persons involved in this profession is “comparatively low” to some neighbouring countries. However, she said there is an “evident” increase in the number of persons training to become seafarers.

MARAD’s Director of Legal Services, Thandi McAllister

“It is imperative that our seafarers are well trained and motivated to serve on board,” Green said.

MARAD’s Director of Legal Services, Thandi McAllister, noted that the department’s register accounts for approximately 11,500 seafarers.

And with the growing economy, she said there are more opportunities and gaps to be filled in the profession.

To date, she said more than 150 candidates have benefitted from maritime training through GOAL, the government’s online scholarship programme.

As the regulatory authority, McAllister highlighted that MARAD continues to survey and inspect ships to ensure that they are safe and are adequately manned by persons who are trained and experienced.

“Seafaring is inherently hazardous. It’s a risky workplace. Thus it is upon all of us….to keep the sector safe,” she said.

Additionally, McAllister noted that Guyana has adopted all of the key conventions relative to keeping the oceans, seas and rivers safe.

And though not yet a member of the Maritime Labour Convention, McAllister said MARAD has been putting in place several measures to ensure there is compliance with the convention, particularly to ensure there are minimum working and living standards for all seafarers.

“Your life, seafarers, is sacrifice and we recongise that you are confronted by a number of challenges.

“Being away from home and family, piracy, wars, drug smuggling, human trafficking, insufficiently manned ships, loneliness and abandonment and so comes through to our Registrar…we will continue to work to ensure that your wellbeing remain secure and in safe hands,” McAllister said.

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