UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Tuesday praised the role played by seafarers in facilitating world trade and development, urging everyone to remember their contributions.
"The effectiveness of the modern, global economy depends on the large-scale transport of cargo between locations all over the world. The only effective way to carry the vast majority of those goods is by sea," Ban said in his message marking the third International Day of the Seafarer, observed on June 25.
"The maritime transport industry is, therefore, central to the livelihoods of billions of people; and the maritime transport industry, in turn, relies on seafarers," he said. "Without them, international trade would simply grind to a halt."
The secretary-general noted that seafaring can be "demanding, onerous and, at times, dangerous."
However, he said, the comprehensive framework of measures developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and other agencies of the United Nations have made it now safer and cleaner than ever before.
The IMO, based in London, is the UN specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.
Ban stressed that seafarers have contributed greatly to significant improvements in the shipping industry's safety and environmental performance, which he described as "an important yet largely unheralded contribution" to the world's efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
"On the Day of the Seafarer, I urge everyone to spare a thought for those courageous seafarers, men and women from all corners of the world, who face danger and tough working conditions to operate today's complex, highly technical ships, every hour of every day of the year and on whom we all depend," Ban said.
In 2010, IMO decided to designate June 25 as the International Day of the Seafarer as a way to give thanks to seafarers for their contribution to the world economy and the civil society.
This year's theme, "Faces of the Sea," aims to highlight the individuals that are often unseen, but who work to deliver more than 90 percent of the world's goods, according to the IMO website.