The Philippine Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) maintains that the Filipino crewing sector—which provides billions of dollars in remittances every year—will continue to be a sunshine industry for years to come.
But during this year’s “Day of the Filipino Seafarer” on June 25, Marina Administrator Hernani Fabia warned that the industry should not take for granted the sun will never set on Filipino seafarers just because of their sheer number in every time zone of the world.
Fabia said one of the challenges Marina faces today is the declining interest of the younger generation to consider a seafaring career.
Marital betrayals, financial problems, family breakups, unguided teenagers, health issues arising from alcoholism, drug addiction, and gambling are only some of the potential issues seafarers face.
Other reasons are also easy enough to understand: the job requires special skills which take years to master, and a change in mindset not only for the seafarers themselves but also for all the loved ones they leave behind. And many of the younger generation do not want any part of it.
But Fabia argues that the government is doing all it can to make a seafaring career attractive to the younger generation.
“It is our responsibility to showcase the multitude of opportunities that a seafaring career offers, highlighting the invaluable experiences, personal growth, and global connections that come with it,” he said in Filipino.
“We need to understand the changing ambitions of the younger generation during these times. The allure of a seafarer career, once a proud tradition passed down through generations, now faces a different landscape.”
In addition to the psychological aspects, Philippine social and economic growth has also broadened the array of career choices and many may not see themselves embarking on a career at sea.
“It is our duty to show them the many opportunities brought by the maritime profession. Let us inspire the younger generation, ensuring that they understand the significance of seafaring and their contribution to the maritime world including the impact they can have in protecting our oceans,” Fabia said.
Amid changing social landscape, Fabia underscored the urgent need to bridge gap between aspirations of the younger generation and growing needs of Filipino seafarers to answer the call of the sea.
The Marina celebrated Seafarer’s Day by organizing a series of events to honor the exceptional contribution of Filipino seafarers to international trade and global economy.
This annual event pays tribute to the life of maritime trade and highlights perils and sacrifices faced by seafarers and their families.
Further, this year’s celebration highlighted seafarers’ role in enforcing the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships and ensuring the proper handling of wastes and protection of marine life.
“Seafarers, as our modern-day heroes, are one of the foremost stewards of our oceans. Their dedication and professionalism form the foundation of the maritime industry, and their contribution is undeniable. They work tirelessly to promote global trade while maintaining the highest standards of environmental responsibility,” Fabia said.
“Let’s work together to create a path that will not only attract new talent but also preserve and nurture the skills of those who have dedicated their lives to this great profession.
“Together, let us ensure that our commitment to protecting our marine environment remains resolute and unwavering because our oceans are worth protecting.”
Meanwhile, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. lauded seafarers for their courage and resilience despite all their personal challenges, citing their significant contributions to national development.
“The courage and resilience that you demonstrate despite all the adversities and challenges that come your way show that the centuries-long tradition of Filipino seafaring remains strong and still drives each and every one of you today,” Marcos said in his message to seafarers.
In his speech at the “Shaping the Future of Shipping: Seafarer 2050” conference held on June 26 in Manila, Marcos said the country’s maritime industry needs to work together to upgrade the skills of the next generation of Filipino seafarers as the global industry shifts to cleaner energy.
“I reiterate my directive to the Marina and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to work closely with the shipping industry in upskilling and reskilling of Filipino seafarers,” Marcos said.
He stressed the importance of investing in skilled workers and preparing them for changes in the industry, such as the envisioned global change from conventional fuel sources to green ammonia between 2030 to 2040.
The entire transportation industry, according to Marcos, is undergoing a major transformation, which is marked by the emergence of new and sustainable fuels as well as the increased deployment of digitalization and automation.
“With all hands on deck, we must come together to envision and shape the future of the industry and global trade for the next 25 years,” Marcos said.
“We can do this by identifying the skills required for the new generation of ships, discussing education and training requirements, and committing to a fair and just transition to build a future-ready and resilient shipping industry.”
Last year, 50,000 Filipino seafarers were at risk of losing their jobs after the country failed to meet European Union training standards.
However, in March this year, the EU said it would continue to recognize their certifications after seeing that the Philippines has made serious progress to improve its maritime workers’ accreditation program and system.
Top photo: Filipino seafarers.
All photos credit: Marina