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Jun 25, 2021

Seafarers Honored in Belize

June twenty-fifth marks International Day of the Seafarers, recognizing their contribution to the global economy and world trade.  The local port authorities spent today honoring the crew from a cargo vessel docked in Belize.  News Five was there for the brief ceremony.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

This vessel is the MV Vanquish. It is almost ready to set off on the high seas with these containers. These are four of the eight seafarers who make up the crew on this vessel. They have been at the dock at the Port of Belize since Thursday but they can’t go on land. And that’s why on this International Day of Seafarers,  the Port Of Belize, the Belize Port Authority and local agent Belize Estate Company Limited got together to give these seafarers a special treat.


Andy Lane

Andy Lane, C.E.O., Port of Belize Limited

“It is an opportunity for us to recognize the essential work that they do and the value that they are to every country and every economy that they serve. So, we are here today to just present a few tokens of our gratitude to them. It is very hard work.  What we are doing here is very miniscule in proportion to what needs to be done for the well-being and livelihood of these essential workers.”


That blaring horn is a salute to these seafarers and others across the globe. They spend several months to more than a year at sea to safely transport cargos back and forth. And so they play a critical role in international trade and moving the global economy forward. It’s one that agent Belize Estate Company Limited recognizes as the seafarers brought in ninety-three containers and taking back one hundred and seventeen.


Leonard Lockwood

Leonard Lockwood, Belize Estate Company Limited

“These seafarers are very important. They are vital to the day to day activities of the vessel because without them we wouldn’t be able to get goods coming into our country on a daily basis. They are the ones responsible for moving in and out of Belize our produce and bring in all the things that we see that we have on the store shelves that make our lives easier day to day.   It is a huge sacrifice these guys they come out and they go on contracts six to nine months and many times they don’t get the opportunity to come on shore and they actually have to physically live on that vessel for the entire duration of their contract.”


But they are exposed to great risks at sea and working conditions continue to be a problem. But it’s their perseverance during the height of this pandemic that shows how important they are to the value supply chain, as they transported millions of protective gears, biomedical technology and equipment to across all corners of the world to tackle the COVID-19.


Andy Lane

“The last year has been very tough for many seafarers; at one stage there were three hundred seafarers essentially stranded at sea because of the travel restrictions and that also means that there were three hundred thousand relief seafarers on land who were unable to go to work and earn for their families. Some of these seafarers have been onboard ships for eighteen months or more and on top of that we are presently on a global basis we are having a peak in the quantity of crew abandonment where the ship owner simply leaves the ship and leave the crew to fend for themselves.   If we go back March, April, May of last year when the pandemic was striking most countries, no country was prepared with protective equipment, oxygen, medicines and the vast majority of that has been transported by container by sea and without the work of these people, I think the death toll and the impact on all societies globally would have been significantly worse than it was.”


But while these seafarers risk their lives to keep the wheels of trade turning and countries supplied basic and live saving necessities, they are still not listed as essential workers. And because their work conditions are far from fair and they provide important service, when they dock in countries, like here in Belize, the Belize Port Authority forms a part of the boarding party to do inspections to ensure that these vessels are sea worthy and that the seafarers’ are being treated fairly.


Rikki Lambey

Rikki Lambey, Port State Control Officer, Belize Port Authority

“When the ship enters we make sure that everything is fine; make sure that everything is okay with the crew but I also inspect the ship. So, every six months we look at fire safety and life savings; engine room.   We check for maritime labour convention which we look on their care as to how they are treated; their hours and so we think it is only right that we celebrate them and let them know we appreciate all they are doing in this challenging times.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


The Port of Belize, the Belize Port Authority and local agents will be recognizing the crews of three more cargo vessels this weekend; the Contship Pro; Jan Caribe and Caribe Mariner.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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