“All non­sense questions are unanswerable,” wrote the British writer and lay theologian C.S. Lewis in his book A Grief Observed, which was first published in 1961. The following questions are not nonsense. In fact, they are valid and important questions. It seems, though, that they are seldom, if ever, raised by maritime folks. I myself continue to ask these questions, but I’m not sure if I have found the answers to all of them.

Those who talk about ‘crew change’ amid the COVID-19 pandemic hardly, if ever, make reference to ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006. Why is this, when the Convention devotes a whole section to repatriation and spells out the responsibilities of the various parties concerned?

Why is the annual ‘Day of the Seafarer’ celebration spearheaded by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) — not by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the UN agency concerned with labour standards and promoting decent work for all women and men?

How can a seafarer union claim to promote the rights of mariners if it uses cadets as unpaid labour?

Why are Filipino seafarers required to remit their dollars through an authorised Philippine bank to be paid to their families only in pesos by their manning agencies? Is this not a violation of the remittance provisions of ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006?

Why do Filipinos love to declare that they are a maritime nation when their oceangoing fleet is virtually non-existent (most ships under the national flag are bareboat chartered from foreign owners)?

Why doesn’t the IMO provide free online access to the full text of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW)? In contrast, all ILO conventions can be read and downloaded in full by anyone who is interested.

If they truly love and respect their profession, why do many maritime editors and reporters engage in cut-and-paste journalism? Why don’t they come up with original, properly researched, articles? Don’t their readers deserve something better?

Why do some organisations and their leaders act like they were sacred cows that are above criticism?

Why do serious maritime accidents still happen despite all the training requirements imposed on seafarers?

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