Message from Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs on the day of seafarer


( Thursday 25th June 2020 )





The world relies heavily upon international maritime shipping to keep the global economy running. Shipping in turn relies upon its seafarers; the men and women who remain onboard vessels, day and night, despite the challenging working conditions that this profession is so well known for. It is rightly said that the ships are the circulating system of global commerce and the 1.5 million seafarers its lifeblood. If they were to stop, much of the humanity would soon begin to starve or freeze.

These brave men and women remain on the frontlines, braving inhospitable conditions, away from home months at a time, all for the greater cause of keeping the wheels of global economy turning smoothly. This holds true particularly today where we are facing immense challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

There can be no doubt that seafarers are frontline essential workers and are critical to paving a path where we can collectively overcome this pandemic. Were it not for them, countries would have found it almost impossible to access essential supplies such as food, oil, medicines and medical supplies. For most people who are not directly exposed to this profession, it may be difficult to comprehend the sacrifices that these heroes make on a daily basis.

This year, the annual Day of the Seafarer is celebrating its 10th anniversary today at a time when we are experiencing numerous challenges related to the pandemic. We experience these challenges as many countries and jurisdictions have restricted or shut down crew transfers, thus constraining rotations and repatriations, leaving seafarers stranded around the world despite having completed their contracts onboard. Many seafarers who have remained away from home and loved ones for months continue to be unsure of when travel restrictions would be eased to enable them to return their homes. The situation is unjust to sailors both onboard and onshore. The first lot does not know when they will be able to see their families; the second do not know when they will next be able to earn a wage.

Pakistani seafarers as part of global maritime community not only serve aboard vessels flying the Pakistan flag but a large number also serve on foreign flag vessels. They act as ambassadors and representatives of Pakistan’s long and illustrious shipping heritage.

While the Government of Pakistan has already lifted restrictions on international air travel and remains committed to facilitation of crew changeovers and repatriation of stranded seafarers to their homes, I call upon all member states of the International Maritime Organization who still continue to have international travel restrictions in place to declare seafarers as key workers and facilitate their repatriation back to their home countries.

On this day Ministry of Maritime Affairs salutes all seafarers and commend them for their bravery, sacrifices and tenacity and the contribution they make to keep the world trade moving.