Rev. Mark S. Nestlehutt, President and Executive Director, Seamen’s Church Institute (USA)
Author picture

Rev. Mark S. Nestlehutt, President and Executive Director, Seamen’s Church Institute (USA)

From our perspective at the Seamen’s Church Institute, we identify one of the challenges looming in 2024 as being primarily centered around the “human element.” While the Maritime Labor Convention, 2006, is being refined to better address the professional and humanitarian needs of seafarers, labor-related concerns persist. 

The task at hand is to recruit and retain highly competent, dedicated seafarers, individuals committed to pursuing long-lasting careers in the maritime industry. The research we are seeing on our end underscores the connection between seafarers’ well-being and various positive outcomes, including reduced accidents and injuries, enhanced job performance and a higher likelihood of remaining in the profession. This, in turn, contributes to the development of a seasoned and proficient maritime workforce.

Addressing this multifaceted challenge involves confronting such issues as seafarer abandonment, ensuring the provision of well-balanced onboard nutrition, facilitating internet access and connectivity to uphold vital personal connections, placing a strong emphasis on mental health and well-being, and taking decisive action against the problems associated with sexual assault and harassment at sea, among other concerns.

Given the inherent difficulties and perils faced by seafarers, it is of utmost importance that they are reassured they are joining teams that not only offer support but also treat them with respect and dignity. While considerable progress has been made, the year 2024 will require the continuing implementation of measures to firmly establish seafaring as a secure and sustainable career path for seafarers.