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Naval Chief pays tribute to seafarers on World Maritime Day

Chief of the Naval Staff issued a message on World Maritime Day. Source: PNS

ISLAMABAD: Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi has said the maritime sector was the bedrock of Pakistan’s economy as 95 percent of its trade was seaborne.

In his message on World Maritime Day (WMD), the Naval Chief highlighted the importance of the sector and said it was celebrated each year to underscore the contributions of the International Maritime Industry in world’s economy and to focus attention on the importance of shipping safety, maritime security and marine environment.

This year’s theme ‘Seafarers at the Core of shipping’s future’ is to pay tribute to the professionalism and resilience of seafarers and recognize their indispensable role in securing vital global supply chains in extraordinarily challenging times.

Admiral Niazi said, “However, this realization is yet to permeate in our national reckoning and intellectual discourse. Pakistan Navy, being a stakeholder in shaping the maritime thought in the country, is playing its due role in creating the desired maritime awareness and to stimulate exploitations of our immense, though untapped Blue Economy.”

He added that Pakistan was blessed with over 1,000 kilometer (km) coastline and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)/ Continental Shelf of 290,000 sq km with abundant resources.

With CPEC already in motion, he said the maritime activities in Pakistan have increasing manifold. “Therefore, potential of sustainable development in the maritime sector of Pakistan needs to be optimally exploited to contribute towards national economy,” he underlined.

The Naval Chief said world economy was facing major challenge of ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which has affected all walks of life. He said it has placed extraordinary demand on seafarers. With thousands stranded on ships for months beyond their original contracts, unable to be repatriated due to national travel restrictions.

“Similarly, many are unable to join ships and earn a living. This crew change crisis is a form of humanitarian emergency that threatens the safety of shipping. Travel restrictions and lack of shore leave are adding to the difficulties being faced by seafarers in the ongoing pandemic,” Admiral Niazi added.

In order to ease their suffering, he said there was a need to reflect on the importance of seafarers as vital human workforce. “In my capacity of Chief Technical Advisor to the Government on all matters connected with Maritimes Affairs, I suggest that seafarers may be designated as ‘key workers’ so as to ensure their travel to and from ships without delays. They may also be enabled priority vaccination for this purpose,” he said.

He noted that Pakistan Navy, apart from its core tasks, was fully cognizant of the importance of national human resources driving the merchant fleet around global maritime highways.

“In this regard, wellbeing of future seafarers, their appropriate training and qualification is being ensured at Pakistan Marine Academy,” he informed. “On this important day, we pledge to make concerted efforts for sustainable development of the maritime sector in Pakistan while addressing the associated challenges. In this regard, I look forward to a profound and cumulative response by all stakeholders,” he concluded.