Up to 364,000 seafarer shortfall by 2050, says Tokyo think tank

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The gloomiest forecast yet of the widening scarcity in skilled and trained seafarers has been delivered by the highly respected Tokyo-based think tank Ocean Policy Research Foundation which claims that a boom in global seaborne trade over the next 40 years will result in a shortfall of 364,000 seafarers by 2050.

Predicting that world seaborne trade will increase by a factor of 2.5 from 29,043 billion ton-miles in 2005 to 72,498 billion ton-miles in 2050, the OPRF says 830,000 seafarers will be required in 2050 “as a result of the increased number of vessels. If we assume that the supply of seafarers will remain the same as at present, the total will be 364,000 short of the required number,” it claims.

By 2050, the OPRF says that container shipments will show a particularly sharp rise during the period of just under six times that of 2005 levels to register 2,894bn teu-miles by 2050.

Predictions regarding intra-regional transportation show that shipments within Asia will increase by a factor of 10.7 from 18bn teu-miles in 2005 to 194bn teu-miles in 2050.

“However, these increases in global and regional seaborne trade are expected to cause heavy maritime traffic congestion and a shortage of skilled seafarers. Accordingly, there may be a corresponding increase in the number of accidents, posting severe risks in terms of safety and the environment,” it says.