Jamaica’s maritime community gathered to celebrate World Maritime Day last week and observe the crucial role that the shipping industry plays in shaping the global economy and connecting nations by seas.
Kingston’s UDC building, home to the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ), was lit up in blue to mark the occasion. Guests were welcomed by MAJ Board Chair, Corah-Ann Robertson Sylvester, with addresses given by The Hon. Daryl Vaz, Minister of Science, Energy and Telecommunications and Transport, and MAJ Director General, Rear Admiral (Ret’d) Peter Brady.
The theme of this year’s World Maritime Day was ‘MARPOL at 50 – our commitment goes on’, recognising the crucial role of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) in preventing pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes.
Minister Vaz (pictured) noted: “Through MARPOL we have seen a remarkable transformation in the maritime industry’s approach to environmental stewardship.”
He outlined measures Jamaica is taking to protect marine environments, commenting: “The Government of Jamaica, through the Maritime Authority of Jamaica, has embraced innovation, implemented technologies, and fostered international co-operation to tackle the challenges we are facing with climate change and environmental conditions, by establishing policies and laws that protect the marine environment.
“Yet, tonight, we are reminded that our journey is far from over. The challenges and the theme of this year’s World Maritime Day serve as a call to action. It reminds us that we must forge ahead with renewed determination and innovation in protecting the industry. It calls upon us as a nation to redouble our efforts to create a maritime industry that is not only economically viable but also ecologically responsible.
“Jamaica remains committed to enhancing sustainable shipping, protecting the marine environment, and establishing policies, and laws that will protect the marine environment,” he pledged. “Jamaica continues its support and dedication to a viable and sustainable maritime industry through its membership on the IMO Council to ensure the interests of the member states of CARICOM, as well as that of the Small Island Developing States and Least Developing Countries are represented.”
With the blue-lit building behind him he said: “As we bathed the Ocean Boulevard in blue light tonight in celebration of World Maritime Day, may we all continue to steer the course, unite the maritime community, and sail towards a brighter and more sustainable maritime industry.”
MAJ Director General Rear Admiral (ret’d) Peter Brady made a World Maritime Day address onboard the Ocean Blue Mahoe, steered by Captain Basil Spooner in Kingston Harbour. Using the vessel’s radio facility, he said: “We use this as an occasion to show the people of Jamaica how critically important shipping is to our livelihood and our economy. Ninety percent or more of our trade takes place by sea, and this emphasises how important shipping is for Jamaica.”
“Shipping has to make sure it takes care of the environment,” he commented, highlighting the important MARPOL annexes which prevent sea and air pollution.
The Maritime Authority of Jamaica also discussed the importance of MARPOL regulations with cadets at the Caribbean Maritime University, explaining the crucial role seafarers play in the correct implementation of these environmental measures.