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Sep 30, 2021

Seafarers: At the Core of Shipping’s Future

Today is World Maritime Day. The International Maritime Organization is celebrating it under the theme, “Seafarers: At the Core of Shipping’s Future” and focusing attention on seafarers who are facing unprecedented hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the importance of their vital role as essential workers for global supply chains today and in the future. Today there was a special virtual celebration here in Belize, a collaborative effort by the various agencies tasked with protecting Belizean waters and looking out for those who have devoted their careers to maritime issues.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

COVID-19 has seen the abandonment of many seafarers the world over, despite the development of vaccines.  Thousands of mariners are stuck onboard their vessels and many more cannot join, creating a humanitarian crisis that threatens global trade and safe navigation.  In celebration of World Maritime Day, achievements in the industry are being highlighted by the Belize Port Authority and the maritime community.


Rodwell Ferguson

Rodwell Ferguson, Minister of Public Utilities, Energy and Logistics

“The shipping industry, also termed as the invisible industry, is crucial to the existence of the global economy, so it is that Belize, like the rest of the world, relies on ships to conduct over eighty percent of the trade.  Despite the pandemic, Belize benefits from over five cruise ships, four hundred and fifty cargo ships, forty tankers, a hundred and twenty-five pleasure crafts, a hundred and fifteen national cargo voyages.  The abovementioned voyages do not include the domestic trade from mainland to the cayes”.


Ports Commissioner Gilbert Swaso describes the ravages of the pandemic on the shipping industry, as well as its impact on sea travelers.


Gilbert Swaso

Gilbert Swaso, Ports Commissioner, Belize Port Authority

“The maritime industry, like every other industry, is not immune to the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 has inflicted severe injury on maritime business continuity, the economy and the shipping industry in particular, the seafarers, among others.  Despite the pandemic, our frontline workers and our seafarers continue to work tirelessly to deliver goods around the world.”


The Belize Coast Guard is also integral to maritime law enforcement.  Included in its mandate is the safeguarding of all vessels at sea.


Capt. Elton Bennett

Capt. Elton Bennett, Commandant, Belize Coast Guard

“Today our theme is very clear, it is people that are at the core of shipping’s future. We want to believe and we want you to believe that you are central to this very essential global industry, that the future of maritime trade is dependent upon you, the mariner.  But what we really need to be cognizant of are those factors that are competing with you, in the form of robotics and autonomous vessels and artificial intelligence that is quickly replacing the human element in industries are seriously contending with the mariner to form the core of the future of shipping.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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