The German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe famously wrote: “Who is the wisest man? He who neither knows or wishes for anything else than what happens.” Maybe so, but what is a new year or life itself without wishes? As the old year winds down and a new one looms on the horizon, I thought I would share my personal maritime wishes. A peaceful New Year to all you readers of Marine Café Blog.
A more critical maritime press
With a few exceptions, the maritime press has become one big echo chamber for corporations and PR firms. Just look at the way it unquestioningly gobbles up press releases and repeats the slogans and catchphrases of the maritime establishment. Surely, readers deserve better.
A stop to the wellness training nonsense
The idea that wellness training can alleviate or prevent depression is patently stupid. Yet, the shipping industry is full of talk on the subject. One maritime charity is even calling for the training to be made mandatory for seafarers. It is a self-serving proposition that not even the unions are questioning.
Concrete steps to address the maritime training overload
It is disingenuous for the international shipping community to talk about seafarers’ rights when nothing is being done to lighten the burden of training on seafarers. Why do seasoned ship captains have to undergo further training to have their certificates revalidated? Do knowledge and experience have an expiry date? Time for a drastic review of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW).
Punitive action against erring shipowners
Captains are usually left holding the bag whenever there is a ship collision or pollution at sea. There should be greater accountability for shipowners who indirectly cause such accidents through their failure to properly maintain their vessels and ensure that their crews are well-trained (and, yes, well-paid).
Proper vetting of manning agencies by their foreign principals
Shipowners can help reduce the exploitation of seafarers by making sure that their manning agents adhere strictly to ethical standards. In Manila, millions of dollars are being stolen annually by dishonest crewing firms from the dollar remittances of Filipino seafarers. Yet, foreign principals don’t bother to look into this decades-old scam.
Corporate promotion of marine art
Companies proudly hang their ISO and ISM certificates on their office walls. Why not also display some marine paintings or seashells? They help create a more congenial atmosphere in the office and will suggest to visitors that the company cares about art and culture, not just money.