Editorial comment – Saluting our seafarers

New Zealand Navy personnel carry out a monitoring patrol with alongside Fijian Fisheries and Fiji Revenue and Customs Service (FRCS) enforcement officers in Yasawa yesterday. Pictured is the team speaking with a group of fishermen they encountered during the patrol. The HMNZS Taupo is berthed in the background. Picture: SHAYAL DEVI

We sometimes take things for granted.
This happens in many aspects of our lives daily.
There are moments in time though that should jolt us back to our senses.
Monday was a special day for seafarers around the world. It was the annual Day of the Seafarer which falls on June 25.
According to the International Maritime Organization, 2017 and 2018 saw strong momentum in the industry to address seafarers’ wellbeing, particularly their mental health.
To give what it terms “further exposure to this important event”, it said, its choice for the theme for this year was Seafarers’ wellbeing.
By addressing the issue of seafarers’ wellbeing, particularly mental health, it said on its website, the campaign could inform specific strategies to tackle stress and other issues affecting seafarers’ mental conditions, and make the tools available more widely known.
It focused on highlighting and showcasing best practices and good examples and also, inevitably, raised areas of concern and examples of shortcomings.
On this special day, the unique and vital role of sea- farers is acknowledged. It is recognised by the UN as an observance day and was established in 2010 by a resolution adopted in Manila.
The day encourages us all to understand the role of seafarers, appreciate their wellbeing and value their contribution to our lives daily, and their positive impact on global trade.
While seafarers will have their fair share of concerns and issues they must deal with daily, being away from family while out at sea for long periods for instance, can be mentally draining.
Faced recently with criticism over service provided here by some companies, the shipping industry in Fiji has attracted mixed reactions.
Some companies are definitely doing a great job, striving to meet daily schedules.
They provide clean vessels and try to meet scheduled departure and arrival times daily.
There is great care taken to meet required safety standards for passengers on their vessels.
Then there are some that struggle to meet departure and arrival times.
They cause great frustration and anger among passengers who sometimes have to wait long hours, sometimes with no idea at all of departure times.
Some companies fail to meet standards of cleanliness expected on vessels, and have no communication with passengers who are forced to wait around the jetty for the announcement to board vessels.
To some extent, it seems there is little or no concern for planning at all.
In the face of this are the seafarers, going about their work in the background.
They play a vital role to ensure vessels are in tiptop shape to carry passengers and cargo, providing a link to our outer islands and between Vanua Levu and Viti Levu.
They certainly deserve our acknowledgement.

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