The International Maritime Organization and the International Labour Organization held their first joint Conference on Work at Sea at IMO headquarters in London. The conference addressed the need for decent conditions for seafarers, fishers, and other maritime personnel, emphasizing the protection of their rights and working conditions in the face of a digitalized and decarbonized future.
IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim referred to seafarers as the unsung heroes of the global economy, highlighting their crucial role in ensuring the safe and effective delivery of goods and food around the world. ILO director-general Gilbert Houngbo emphasized the need for a new social contract that puts seafarers at the heart of the shipping industry and addressed the challenges faced by seafarers, including unpaid wages, fatigue, limited access to social connectivity, and denial of shore leave.
The conference also aimed to identify gaps in the current regulatory framework and explore how governments, industry, IGOs, and NGOs can improve the international maritime legal framework. Key themes included responsible management, enforcement of existing regulations, further ratification of fishing-related treaties, and the need to prepare seafarers and fishers for the digitalized and decarbonized future. The IMO emphasized the importance of international cooperation and collaboration between governments, international organizations, and the shipping industry to address challenges in recruiting and retaining personnel at sea.