TODAY is World Maritime Day, and this year, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has chosen the theme “connecting ships, ports and people” for the day.
In a statement, IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim said the theme would help to shine a spotlight on the existing co-operation between ports and ships to maintain and enhance a safe, secure and efficient maritime transportation system.
“Shipping and ports can play a significant role in helping to create conditions for increased employment, prosperity and stability through promoting maritime trade,” he said.
Shipping Australia (SAL) CEO Rod Nairn said most Australians don’t recognise the vital role that shipping plays in supporting Australia.
“Ships keep Australia’s economy afloat by enabling export earnings, and by bringing us the imported good essential to support every Australian’s standard of living,” he said.
“Without international shipping, the world would stop. Think about that.”
A statement from SAL said the Australian maritime sector was an often-overlooked force for good in the world.
“Our ports, stevedores, tugs, pilots, and border agencies work diligently 24/7, and with increasing efficiency, to move cargo safely, maintaining navigational safety and maritime security while protecting the marine environment,” the statement read.
“Through greater appreciation of the role played by ships and ports, Australians may recognise that the opportunities of better connections provide for the sustainable development of a more resilient community which drives towards greater global stability.”
Federal transport and infrastructure minister Darren Chester Took the opportunity to announce Australia was seeking to upgrade its IMO membership to Category B.
Mr Chester said World Maritime Day was a day to celebrate shipping and highlight Australia’s campaign to move up from Category C on IMO’s governing Council.
“Category B more accurately reflects Australia’s status as a state with a large interest in international seaborne trade,” he said.
“Australia is the world’s largest bulk commodities exporter, with deep interests in protecting our marine environment and servicing a search and rescue area that covers one-tenth of the earth’s surface.”
He went on to say that Category C is for states with a special interest in maritime transport or navigation and whose election to the Council ensures the representation of all major geographic areas of the world.
“Australia’s election to Category B would allow us to continue to work closely with IMO member states to develop balanced and evidence-based policy on issues important both to trade efficiency as well as to maritime safety and protecting the marine environment,” Mr Chester said.
“Shipping directly supports Australia’s economy and essentially all of our exports – agricultural products, including wheat and wool, minerals such as iron ore, and energy.”
World maritime Day is an official United Nations day, and it offers the opportunity to focus attention on shipping and maritime activities. It also highlights the contribution of the IMO and its member states to global efforts to improve the safety, security and efficiency of shipping.
Every year there is a theme to the day. Last year it was “Shipping: indispensable to the world”, which sought to draw attention to the importance of the industry – according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), about 80% of global trade by volume is carried by sea.
The key objective of this year’s theme – “connecting ships, ports and people” – is to raise global standards and set norms for the safety, security and efficiency of ports and for port and coastal state authorities, as well as to foster co-operation between port authorities and the shipping industry.