Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
Member States of the IMO have urged further firm action in coming years to advance gender equality throughout the maritime sector and reach a barrier-free environment, following a year of action to “empower women in the maritime community” – the World Maritime theme for 2019.
IMO Assembly adoption of resolution
The IMO Assembly, meeting for its 31st session from 25 November to 4 December adopted a resolution on Preserving the Legacy of the World Maritime Theme for 2019 and achieving a Barrier-Free Working Environment for Women in the Maritime Sector.
This resolution urges governments, maritime administrations and the industry to endeavour to reach a barrier-free environment for women, so that all women can participate fully, safely and without hindrance in the activities of the maritime community, including seafaring and shipbuilding activities.
Furthermore, the resolution notes testimony from women from across the various maritime industries which demonstrates that barriers and obstacles still exist at every level. Work towards gender equality, including the fostering of a safe environment for women in the maritime sector, remains incomplete and should continue to be pursued.
Governments, maritime administrations and the industry should consider ways to continuously identify and overcome existing constraints in all aspects of the maritime sector, in particular, in terms of recruitment, promotion, training, capacity-building and technical cooperation.
Additionally, the resolution encourages sharing of best practices in achieving gender equality. It also encourages efforts to collect, consolidate and analyse data relating to the participation of women in the maritime sector, in order to establish an evidentiary foundation that will set baselines, identify gaps and inform policies aimed at removing barriers and increasing female participation in the sector.
Finally, the resolution also encourages IMO, and its relevant subsidiary bodies to take into consideration gender equality, including the fostering of a safe environment for women in the maritime sector, and integrate these considerations into their work. Open dialogue and wider engagement between the Member States and observer delegations is encouraged.
A barrier-free environment
An IMO media briefing of 5 December on the topic of gender equality informed that creation of a barrier-free environment for women will help facilitate the achievement of the global Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 on gender equality.
WMD 2019 theme
World Maritime Day’s theme in 2019 was Empowering women in the maritime community. This has helped raise awareness of the importance of gender equality and highlight the important, yet under-utilized, contribution of women within the maritime sector. Many maritime stakeholders have enthusiastically taken up the theme at seminars, conferences and panel discussions, it is reported.
Throughout the year, IMO worked with various maritime stakeholders to help create an environment in which women are identified and selected for career development opportunities in maritime administrations, ports and maritime training institutes and to encourage more conversation for gender equality in the maritime space.
Encouragement of associations
IMO’s Women in Maritime programme has pushed forward with numerous activities, including premiering a new film, launching profiles of women in the maritime sector and providing support to Women in Maritime Associations (WIMAs) launched through the programme.
The illustration here is reproduced by kind courtesy of IMO ©
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has welcomed the World Health Organization’s decision to name seafarers as one of the groups of transportation workers that should be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccination in instances of limited supplies. This was reported on 22 July.
Updated guidance for Stage II of its vaccine roadmap from the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) states: ‘Seafarers and air crews who work on vessels that carry goods and no passengers, with special attention to seafarers who are stranded at sea and prevented from crossing international borders for crew change due to travel restrictions.’
IMO Secretary General Lim commented: ‘I am glad to see that the WHO recognises the importance of vaccinating seafarers on cargo ships.
‘These individuals are responsible for transporting over 80% of all goods around the world, including food, medicine and vaccine supplies – and have continued to do so despite extremely challenging circumstances. Seafarers will play a key role in the global recovery, and barriers to international travel and crew change must be removed.’
On 28 September 2019, a cargo tank containing styrene monomer on board the Cayman Islands registered chemical tanker Stolt Groenland ruptured causing an explosion and fire. The tanker was moored alongside a general cargo berth in Ulsan, Republic of Korea and the Singapore registered chemical tanker Bow Dalian was moored outboard. Ignition of the styrene monomer vapour resulted in a fireball, which reached the road bridge above. Both vessels were damaged, and two crew suffered minor injuries. Fifteen emergency responders were injured during the fire-fighting, which lasted for over six hours.
Rupture of the styrene monomer tank resulted from a runaway polymerisation that was initiated by elevated temperatures caused by heat transfer from other chemical cargoes. Elevated temperatures caused the inhibitor, added to prevent the chemical’s polymerisation during the voyage, to deplete more rapidly than expected. Although the styrene monomer had not been stowed directly adjacent to heated cargo, the potential for heat transfer through intermediate tanks was not fully appreciated or assessed.