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It’s official.  This is the “Year of the Seafarer.”

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), which helps regulate the international maritime organization through its association with the United Nations, announced that fact at a recent event held at itsLondonheadquarters

IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos said 2010 promised to be an important year for the seafaring profession, particularly since there will be a diplomatic conference in Manila in June to adopt amendments to update the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (the STCW Convention), and its associated Code.

In addition to dealing with some troubling conditions in the international maritime industry—lack of meaningful manning standards, fatigue—the IMO’s “Year of the Seafarer” seeks to reverse a decline in the number of qualified officers.

As Mitropoulos noted, “It is my firm belief that, despite the numerical decline in officer-level entrants, shipping remains a potentially exciting, rewarding and fulfilling career – a career that can take people almost anywhere, both in geographical terms and in terms of the sort of work they may finally find themselves doing. Seafaring is not only a satisfying and worthwhile career choice in itself, it is also a passport to a huge variety of related jobs ashore for which experience at sea will make one eminently qualified…

“Seafarers deserve respect and recognition; let us resolve, during 2010, to ensure that this message is trumpeted loud and clear.”