The International Day of the Seafarer

Today, 25 June 2012 marks the second international Day of the Seafarer. This year, the IMO is asking people around the world to use the power of social networks to highlight the importance of the work of seafarersm and raise awareness of seafarers and their unique role. Everyone, regardless of where they live, can join the campaign online, in particular by commenting the Day of the Seafarer Facebook page at

“Seafarers leave their homes and families, often for long periods to ensure that essential items and commodities on which our lives depend arrive safely at our homes.” (IMO)

Seafarer often finds themselves under demanding and sometimes dangerous circumstances, particularly in pirate-prone areas. The following are some of the most significant findings from the recently released 2011 Oceans Beyond Pirates Report on the human cost of piracy in the Indian Ocean:

  • 3,863 seafarers were fired upon by Somali pirates with assault rifles and rocket propelled grenades;
  • 968 seafarers came into close contact with pirates, who managed to board their vessels;
  • 413 seafarers were rescued from citadels;
  • 1,206 hostages were held captive by Somali pirates;
  • 555 seafarers were taken hostage in 2011; 645 hostages were captured in 2010 and remained captive during 2011; 6 tourists and aid workers were kidnapped on land;
  • 35 hostages died as a result of pirate captivity in 2011;
  • Average length of captivity was 8 months.

These findings are particulary concerning and demand continuing attention and engagement from all stakeholders in the maritime field. Several initiatives have been launched to support the plight of kidnapped seafarers and their families. Among those, is Save Our Seafarers which runs an on-going worldwide awareness campaign to raise the profile of Somali piracy in political and media circles, in order to see Somali piracy deterred, defeated and eradicated, and to stop seafarers being tortured and murdered.

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