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Jun 30, 2022

Vacancy Exists for Seafarers in Belize

Other than the call centers that may have vacancies for new recruits from time to time, we don’t hear too often about job vacancies in other certain sectors. Interestingly, there are vacancies for jobs in an area that many people have not heard much about at all, or are not too keen on how that industry functions. But today, Marion Ali found out just how you can become employed in the seafaring sector and the good benefits that can accompany your job. Here’s her report.


Marion Ali, Reporting

Seafaring is a job that most Belizeans do not pursue, perhaps because of the demands of being away from home for long periods at a time. They depend on the high seas and oceans to transport goods from one port to another, or in the case of fishermen, to bring in the last catch after a few days away from home. Today, in tandem with the International Day for Seafarers which was observed on Saturday, IMMARBE held an Expo at Keystone Building on Newtown Barracks to educate people on the different aspects of this fledgling industry for Belize. Locally, the Belize Fisheries Department is the body that controls how our local commercial seafarers operate.


Ines Garcia

Ines Garcia, Assistant Fisheries Officer, Belize Fisheries Department

“Sometimes the public tends to confuse us with the (Fisheries) Cooperatives, which deal with the exportation of conch, but we are at the management level. The department is the body that advises the government when it comes to regulations and implementation of different mechanisms for the fisheries sector. We do boat-to-boat outreach with fishermen and there we could tell them about people who spend their life at sea. Talking to them about their day-to-day living out at sea and just bringing them across other sectors that also depend on the ocean as well.”


Of course there are several different categories of seafarers. Cleopatra Cuevas outlined for us that the Port of Big Creek, which she manages, is a bulk and container terminal facility through which Belize ships most of its primary products, like sugar, citrus, bananas, grains, and crude oil. She shared that there are Belizean seafarers who travel with their shipment through Central America from that port.

Cleopatra Cuevas

Cleopatra Cuevas, Port Manager, Port of Big Creek

“Within our port facility we have what we call our marine department, which houses two tugs, manned by certified crews – our seafarers of course. These guys are responsible for bringing all ships to berth safely, along with our pilots. They also do transshipment lines between Guatemala and Honduras. So our guys know what it is to travel on international waters weekly, going to pick up cargo between Belize and Honduras, back to Belize.”


But not very many Belizeans are employed aboard ships that sail the high seas, but seafaring is an industry that could possibly prepare you for better financial stability in your later years. Edmond Staine is the Seafarers Manager at the Edmond Staine is the Seafarers Manager at the International Merchant Marine Registry of Belize, IMMARBE. He told News Five today that the seafaring industry is in its infancy in Belize and there is a lot of room for employment and growth.


Edmond Staine

Edmond Staine, Seafarers Manager, IMMARBE

“IMMARBE has vacancies. Port Authority is actually raffling a job, and they have additional vacancies. The Coast Guard has some scholarship opportunities. We’ve signed on to so many great maritime conventions and the ability for us to open maritime training centers in the future is one of the industries that I believe Belize should jump on. There is a deficiency of about a hundred thousand seafarers globally and Belize can train our people to make up a part of that. And IMMARBE, which I’m the seafarers manager for IMMARBE. We actually have a thousand ships, so if we have personnel in Belize trained, we could make it mandatory for persons to work on board our ships and open a whole new access for resources.”


On a media tour aboard the Caribbean Princess on Wednesday, Captain Tim Springer shared that one of the big sacrifices seafarers have to make is to give up time with family and friends. But Staine assured that the job is as rewarding as it is demanding.


Edmond Staine

“You’re sailing at sea but you’re stopping at many ports all over the world, so you’re getting an opportunity to tour the world basically for free. So there’s always a trade-off in whatever you do. If you go and join the military, if you go and join the coast guard you’re always sent out but there are tours that you sign up for. So I could basically sign up to work for just three months or two months, so you could do a rotation. It depends on the individual. Of course if you’re an officer – if you’re a master, then you’re expected to take care of the ship. So in those capacities, of course, you’re asked to stay on the ship longer but you also have a longer break. Because if I work for six months, I’m home for six months. So you could look at it in that way. Whatever tour you work, you get the reciprocal in rest.”


Another very relevant factor to consider in all this is the salary and benefits.


Edmond Staine

“Because we signed on to the Maritime Labour Convention, which has really increased the security for persons working on board ships, you have to be repatriated for free, you have to be fed every day, you have to be housed, you have medical expenses covered, you have insurance, and they have to fly you back home. So you don’t have to spend any money when working on board a ship if you don’t want to. Of course if you’re touring around and you want to go and splurge you could do that.The seafaring wages are much better than we get paid in Belize, and if you’re working for companies like an American company or other companies that use the wages from the country of their origin, then of course it’s much more you are able to collect.”


IMMARBE is currently working on getting independently audited in order that it will be able to open maritime training centres locally and get Belizeans on board ships to work. That process should be ready to start within a year or so. But if you wanted to give it a try before then, IMMARBE has connections to other shipping companies that could take you on and train you any time.      


Marion Ali For News Five



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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