The UK P&I Club reported that in the previous three years, they have identified an increase of suicide at sea from 4.4% in 2014 to 15.3% in 2017- a rate that has almost tripled. Tim Huxley, Chairman of Mandarin Shipping, Hong Kong, has said: “as a shipowner, we have an obligation to ensure a safe and healthy working environment for our seafarers, something which is not just a moral obligation, but is good business as well.”
In the current economic climate, companies are forced to cut costs in part due to legislation and the cost of operation, which is growing exponentially. This is increasing the divide between shipowners, managers and their crew, which is seeing fatal impacts on sea workers. To help stop these negative effects and to ultimately decrease the suicide rate of crew at sea, there should be one clear mission for the shipping industry: to improve the wellness of seafarers both physical or mental.
UK Maritime Minister, Nusrat Ghani stated on 16 January 2019 at the Palace of Westminster, that “safety and employment measures should be seen as an investment in business and not as red tape or a burden on maritime firms”, She said she was concerned about the high rate of suicide among seafarers and the role that fatigue may play in this. ‘Fatigue remains a key concern for the UK, so we have developed a three-pronged strategy through culture change, enforcement of regulations and education,’ she added.
It is imperative that industry leaders and stakeholders come together to share their concerns. To work to shape a strategic and collaborative action plan that improves the wellness of crew at sea, not just in the UK. It is too easy to forget that without the work of our seafarers, who are at sea every day transporting our goods, we would not be able to live our lives as we know it. Something needs to be done.
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