Ghana is to join the rest of the world on Thursday, September 24 to mark another World Maritime Day, the day set aside to celebrate the international maritime industry’s contribution towards the world’s economy, especially in shipping.
On the theme, "Sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet," this year’s event is to provide an opportunity to raise awareness of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and showcase the work that the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and its Member States are undertaking to achieve the targets.
Unlike previous events, this year’s World Maritime Day is to be celebrated in the form of an online event due to social distancing measures caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
It is organised by the IMO Secretariat with Ghana ably represented by the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA).
A local event is also expected to be held at the Head Office of the Ghana Maritime Authority at Ridge, Accra, to mark the day.
This year, the IMO is focusing on sustainable shipping in its bid to curtail excess air and water pollution from ships.
In view of this, key frameworks have been rolled out to nip this in the bud to reverse the negative impact resulting from greenhouse emissions and ballast water.
The MARPOL Annex VI and the IMO Initial Strategy on the reduction of GHG emissions from ships are clear efforts to ensure a sustainable planet.
The IMO estimates around 53,000 merchant ships trading internationally, some 11,000 ships are bulk carriers. General cargo ships accounted for the majority of ships in the world merchant fleet as of January 1, 2019.
IMO Sulfur cup
Consequently, Ghana joined many other IMO Member states to ratify and implement the IMO Sulfur cap 2020 which saw the reduction of sulfur emission to 0.5 per cent.
From January, 2020, Ghana banned all ships with sulfur emissions above 0.5 per cent from entering its seaports.
The shipping industry, with the support of the IMO regulatory framework, has already started the transition towards this sustainable future.
IMO has adopted and will continue to develop measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the sulphur content of ships' fuel oil, implement the Ballast Water Management Convention, protect the polar regions, reduce marine litter, improve the efficiency of shipping through the electronic exchange of information, meet the challenges of the digitalisation of shipping and enhance the participation of women in the maritime community.
The pandemic has highlighted the professionalism and sacrifice of the two million seafarers who serve on the world’s merchant fleet.
Shipping has continued to transport more than 80 per cent of world trade, including vital medical supplies, food and other basic goods that are critical for the COVID-19 response and recovery – but hundreds of thousands of seafarers face a humanitarian crisis as they have been stranded at sea, unable to get off the ships they operate with contracts extended by many months.
This needs to be addressed urgently, through governments designating seafarers as essential workers and ensuring safe crew changes can take place.
How it started
The United Nations (UN) through the IMO, created World Maritime Day to celebrate the international maritime industry’s contribution towards the world’s economy. The event’s date varies by year and country but it is always in the last week of September.
The day was first held in 1978 to mark the 20th anniversary of the IMO Convention’s entry into force.
Celebrations are held throughout the world to focus attention on the importance of shipping safety, maritime security and the marine environment, and to emphasize a particular aspect of IMO's work.
It focuses on the importance of shipping safety, maritime security and the marine environment and to emphasize a particular aspect of IMO's work.
The day also features a special message from the IMO’s secretary-general, which is backed up by a discussion paper on the selected subject in more detail.
It is celebrated in many countries worldwide, including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States of America (USA) and Ghana. Many maritime organisations and unions hold special events and activities to celebrate this day.
These activities and events range from symposiums to luncheons, as well as school lessons that focus on the day.
Some classes may organise a trip to a maritime museum so students can understand the significance of the maritime industry in shaping world history and its importance in world trade.