NSD 2023: Seafarers as protectors of the ocean
Seafarers’ contribution in safeguarding the marine environment is highlighted in this year’s National Seafarers’ Day (NSD).
“The urgency to protect the ocean can be seen and felt, especially by the thousands of seafarers across the globe. We can’t ignore the impact of human activity on our marine environment.”
Thus, declared CBCP bishop promoter of Stella Maris Philippines and Antipolo Bishop Ruperto C. Santos during the mass at the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) grounds last Sunday, September 24, 2023 in celebration of the 28th NSD.
NSD is celebrated every last Sunday of September annually by virtue of Proclamation Nos. 828 and 1094 by the late President Fidel V. Ramos that aimed to give due recognition to the vital role of Filipino seafarers towards the development of the Philippines as a maritime country.
Led by Stella Maris, the first NSD was celebrated on August 18, 1996 with the theme “Marinong Filipino: Taas Noo!” at the WG&A Pier 4, North Harbor Manila.
“Work is a gift from God. It does not only give us financial compensation but it also allows us personal growth and gives us a sense of purpose,” Bishop Santos said.”
“Commit your work to the Lord in all your lives. Your manners at work reflects your faith that will inspire you to be good employees. ”
This year’s theme “Marinong Filipino: Patuloy sa Pangangalaga ng Karagatan” is lifted from “MARPOL at 50 – Our commitment goes on” theme of World Maritime Day set on September 28, 2023.
Adopted on November 2, 1973, MARPOL is International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships which covers prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes.
MARPOL directly influences the way seafarers operate and live life onboard ships.
Seafarers have a frontline role in implementing MARPOL and protecting our marine environment. They do this by ensuring efficient ship operations and effective onboard waste management, and through sustainable fishing practices.
Ocean or marine pollution is a mixture of both chemical contamination and trash. The act of ocean pollution occurs when chemicals and trash are either washed, blown or intentionally dumped into the ocean.
Ocean pollution has many consequences that directly and indirectly affect marine life, as well as humans’ health.
Annex I covers prevention of pollution by oil from operational measures as well as from accidental discharges;
Annex II details the discharge criteria and measures for the control of pollution by noxious liquid substances carried in bulk;
Annex III deals with harmful substances carried by sea in packaged form. It contains general requirements for the issuing of detailed standards on packing, marking, labelling, documentation, stowage, quantity limitations, exceptions and notifications.
Annex IV contains requirements to control pollution of the sea by sewage.
Annex V deals with different types of garbage and specifies the distances from land and the manner in which they may be disposed of.
Annex VI deals with air pollution from ships . It sets limits on sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from ship exhausts and prohibits deliberate emissions of ozone depleting substances;
If a ship violates MARPOL Regulations, it may be detained, the owners/operators fined and placed on probation and the involved crew member/s may be imprisoned and/or fined.
“Every Filipino seafarer deserves greater protection from abuses and violations of his or her rights and welfare. Seafarers have been called modern day heroes because of their economic contributions through remittances, and their sacrifices to give a comfortable life to their loved ones,” according to Senator Risa Hontiveros as one of the principal authors of the pending Magna Carta for Filipino Seafarers.
NSD coincides with the celebration of the National Maritime Week (NMW) every last week of September spearheaded alternatively by the government agencies Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).
“Reflect gratefully on what you have accomplished. Evaluate what lies ahead and prayerfully plan. Ask God for His guidance. Then, continue to persevere until you fulfill God’s purpose in your life,” Bishop Santos said.
The Philippines is considered as one of the major supplier of maritime labor globally as it is estimated that there is one Filipino seafarer for every four to five complements on board a vessel at any time.
According to the BIMCO/ICS Seafarer Workforce Report 2021, the top five largest supplier for both officers and ratings are the Philippines, the Russian Federation, Indonesia, China, and India. Together, these countries supplied 44 percent of the global seafarer workforce.
In 2022, Filipino seafarers deployed reached 489,852 with the corresponding dollar remittances amounting to US$6,715,880,000.
The sea-based sector’s remittances comprise at least 22 percent of the total OFW dollar remittances.
(Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, e-mail [email protected], or call 09175025808 or 09088665786.)
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