Why Seafarers are Essential Workers

Lowering Lifeboat

Have you ever stopped to think just how many items you use came from the maritime industry? Almost everything we use in our daily lives was grown or made elsewhere in the world and delivered to us by means of shipping. Most goods that are imported to, and exported from, the U.S. are moved by ships. There are ships moving goods around the world at all times of day, every day of the year. The mariners that work on these ships work for long periods of time, with little rest. Many mariners spend months at a time on the ocean, serving as essential workers to keep our economy moving.  

Did you know that over 50% of imported goods to the U.S. are brought by ships? Did you know that 74% of the world’s trade is carried by ship? If you think about how large these economies are, those numbers are simply staggering.  

When COVID-19 struck at the start of 2020, the world feared that the global economy would come crashing down. Although supply chains and global trade were impacted by the virus, what many people did not realize was that the world of shipping remained hard at work. If that had not been the case, the global economy would have come to a standstill, thus failing to deliver thenecessities that many countries and their people are dependent on for survival. Based on this fact alone, it is fair to say that seafarers are essential workers. 

Even beyond their essential work during COVID-19, the work of a seafarer is incredibly brave. The nature of the maritime industry is one of adventure. Although seafarers get the opportunity to explore new places, they must often travel across open seas to get there. The open ocean can be a very dangerous place to be if the weather decides to take a turn for the worst. Despite this danger, seafarers recognize the importance of delivering the goods on their ship and do whatever is necessary to do so safely and efficiently. 

The life of a seafarer is one that is full of adventure and responsibility. Despite the risk their work entails, whether it be their work with heavy objects, storms at sea or the risk of infection, seafarers understand how much the world depends on them to keep economies alive. We must recognize the bravery and commitment of seafarers during the COVID-19 pandemic and thank them for all that they do. 

The United Nations recently identified seafarers as essential workers. While this was long overdue, we extend our appreciation to the UN and hope to give our seafarers all the recognition that they deserve.  

So, thank you to the world’s unsung heroes – the seafarer!