Cape Town - Seafarers are being celebrated in the 10th anniversary of the Day of the Seafarer on Thursday.
The day is celebrated in recognition of the men and women who work on the oceans and provide for the needs of people around the world.
The theme this year is, "Seafarers are key workers".
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) said seafarers are among the front-line workers during the Covid-19 pandemic and play an essential role in maintaining the flow of vital goods needed by countries, such as food, medicine and medical supplies.
The IMO said Covid-19 has made working conditions unpleasant and difficult for seafarers as port access is restricted and there are problems with crew changeovers, resupply and repatriation. All of these are issues that seafarers deal with daily.
The IMO has called on countries to recognise seafarers as essential workers and to provide them with the necessary support they need during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Oceana Group, a global fishing company employing almost 5,000 people and ranked as one of the top seafood companies in the world, said it was important that they pay tribute to those who sustain economies and livelihoods.
Group CEO Imraan Soomra said there was never a time more important than the present to honour seafarers.
Soomra said the company will celebrate seafarers in countries where Oceana has a presence, including South Africa, Namibia and the US.
“South Africa, with some 3,000 kilometres of coastline and surrounded by three oceans – the Atlantic, Indian and Southern oceans – has a rich seafaring history, but Covid-19 has turned the world as we know it upside down.
“The Cape West Coast, where a number of Oceana’s operations are based, is one of five hot spot areas identified in the Western Cape,” Soomra said.
Oceana Group CEO Imraan Soomra. Photo: Oceana Group
Small-scale fishers along the South African coastlines bore the brunt of the pandemic as they were unable to enter waters due to the stringent lockdown regulations, which in turn had a crippling effect on their finances and livelihoods.
Oceana therefore joined forces with the South African government, FishSA and relief organisations to provide food parcels to those who were hardest hit within the fishing sector.
“We recognise that life at sea is not easy, encompassing as it does extreme weather conditions and tremendous personal sacrifice to be away from families and loved ones for extended periods.
“This has been made even more treacherous by the Covid-19 pandemic, and our deepest gratitude goes to the men and women who sail our oceans. We trust each day for your safe return and be assured that your efforts are deeply appreciated,” Soomra added.