The Council of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), meeting for its 102nd session in London (29 June to 3 July 2009), agreed that next year's theme for World Maritime Day will be "2010: Year of the Seafarer", endorsing a proposal from IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos.
The theme - to be celebrated throughout the year and also at a World Maritime Day parallel event in Argentina - was selected to give IMO and the international maritime community the opportunity to pay tribute to the world's seafarers for their unique contribution to society and in recognition of the risks they shoulder in the execution of their duties in an often hostile environment. In proposing it, Secretary-General Mitropoulos said that "the unique hazards confronting the 1.5 million seafarers of the world - including pirate attacks, unwarranted detention and abandonment - coupled with the predicted looming shortage of ships' officers, make it ever more incumbent to take immediate and effective action to forestall a situation from developing in which ships are not manned with sufficient skilled personnel".
The theme complements IMO's ongoing "Go to Sea!" campaign to attract new entrants to the shipping industry, which was launched in November 2008 in association with the International Labour Organization, the "Round Table" of shipping industry organizations and the International Transport Workers' Federation. It is also in line with the comprehensive review, initiated in 2006, of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) 1978 and its associated Code, updated texts of which are due to be considered by a Diplomatic Conference scheduled to be held in Manila, Philippines, in mid-2010. Once adopted, the proposed amendments to the STCW Convention and Code will provide the necessary global standards for the training and certification of seafarers to man technologically advanced ships, today and for some time to come.