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Utilizing social media in an unprecedented way and reaching out to others outside of the maritime industry, the third annual “Day of the Seafarer” was an outstanding success. It was held June 25.

Organized by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which is the agency of the United Nations (UN) tasked with monitoring and overseeing maritime safety and security, the “Day of the Seafarer” seeks to improve conditions in the international maritime industry by putting a human face on a vitally important industry that all too often is invisible to the outside world.  Civilian mariners across the globe responded to the agency’s call to talk about their lives and individual experiences on such outlets as Facebook and Yahoo.

IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu said, “Seafarers operate on the ‘front line’ of the shipping industry, and this year’s campaign theme, ‘Faces of the Sea,’ highlighted the individuals that are often unseen, but who work to deliver more than 90% of the world’s goods. We will ask the seafarers themselves to show us snapshots of their daily life at sea, to give them a voice and share their story on a global stage, via social media”.

Special attention was made to engage in outreach efforts to those involved in what the IMO calls “the supply chain” – other modes of transportation, shippers and those who benefit from the hard work, professionalism and dedication of civilian mariners all across the globe.

This year’s commemorations coincide with a number of important developments.  According to Sekimizu, 2013 is a landmark year for the seafaring community as the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC 2006) enters into force in August: “This marks significant progress in the recognition of seafarers’ roles and the need to safeguard their well-being and working conditions.”

Commenting on the event, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon added, “On the Day of the Seafarer, I urge everyone to spare a thought for those courageous seafarers, men and women from all corners of the world, who face danger and tough working conditions to operate today’s complex, highly technical ships.”