World Maritime Day 2015



23 September 2015

National Museum of Australia, Canberra

Thank you very much Mike [Mrdak, Secretary, Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development].

Good evening Ambassadors, High Commissioners and distinguished guests.

On behalf of the Australian Government, I would like to warmly welcome you here this evening.

I would like to acknowledge the Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, Mike Mrdak, the Chairman of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority Board, Stuart Richey and the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Mick Kinley, and thank them for their contributions to the maritime industry.

Thank you for joining us to celebrate World Maritime Day 2015.

This day is used to focus attention on the importance of shipping safety, maritime security and the marine environment, and to emphasise the work of the International Maritime Organization.

World Maritime Day Theme

This year's World Maritime Day theme is ‘Maritime education and training’.

Maritime safety, security and the protection of the marine environment is reliant on the professionalism and competence of seafarers.

As the largest island nation in the world, Australia is dependent on international shipping.

10 per cent of the world's sea trade passes through Australian ports and 99 per cent of Australian trade is transported by sea.

With a coastline of over 60,000 kilometres and a search and rescue region covering more than more than 10 per cent of the earth's surface, a healthy shipping industry is absolutely vital to Australia.

This shipping industry, in turn, depends on seafarers.

Regionally, the Asia-Pacific region accounts for some 40 per cent of the world's cargo-carrying fleet and around half of the world's seafarers.

More than 1.5 million people in the world are employed as seafarers.

These may seem like substantial figures, but when you consider these seafarers are responsible for supporting international trade for a global population of more than 7 billion, it is quite astounding.

According to the International Maritime Organization, if the global fleet increases by 70 per cent between now and 2030 as is widely predicted, there will be a need for an additional 40,000 seafarers each year during this period.

But recruitment is just the first challenge.

The second challenge is providing our future seafarers with sound education and training so that they can fulfil their roles effectively, efficiently and safely.

The basic requirements for seafarer training and certification are contained in the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers—known as the STCW Convention.

As a founding member of the IMO, and as a Council member, Australia has played a key role in reviewing and implementing IMO Conventions.

Australia is highly involved in the IMO's Integrated Technical Cooperation Program, providing regular training to our counterparts to assist in increasing compliance to IMO conventions and instruments, and working to improve safety and environmental outcomes.

Australia also works cooperatively with Member States at the IMO to progress international standards in all of the IMO's committees and sub-committees.

Australia currently chairs the IMO's Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping Sub-Committee, and was recently elected to chair one of the largest IMO bodies, the Maritime Safety Committee.

The HTW sub-committee is responsible for considering the international standards for training and certification of seafarers; reviewing and updating model courses; and providing training guidelines.

IMO Educational Institutions

While governments and the IMO work to set international standards, it is ultimately the maritime professionals both on shore and at sea who must put these standards into practice.

Their ability to do this effectively lies in quality education and training.

The IMO is supported in this context through the World Maritime University and International Maritime Law Institute.

These institutions provide high-level maritime training for policy makers, administrators and professionals, and Australia is pleased to work closely with them both.

The Australian Maritime College in Launceston has recently seconded professors to assist in maritime education and training at these institutions, and AMSA's former Chief Executive Officer, Mr Graham Peachey is currently a member of a high-level committee advising on the World Maritime University's operations and ongoing sustainability.

However, even with the best policies, highest standards, and the safest ships, in the end, a sustainable and flourishing maritime industry comes down to the seafarers, the work they do and how they do it.

In the words of 19th century American writer George William Curtis, “It is not the ship so much as the skilful sailing that assures the prosperous voyage.”

Almost 200 years later, ships have come a very long way, but this quote remains true.  Even the greatest ships are ineffective without a skilful crew.

Today's seafarers require high level technical skills, knowledge and expertise.

They must not only be trained in maritime operations, but also in management, communication, handling budgets, occupational health and safety, and information technology.

The shipping industry also has a vested interest in ensuring that the people they employ on multimillion dollar ships are trained, capable and suitably experienced.

Therefore, there is a common goal—all of us want seafarers who are not only good operators, but capable of making the right decision at the right time, to achieve the best possible outcome for maritime safety, security and environmental protection.

International Events

This event tonight is one of many occurring around the world to promote the importance of maritime education and training.

Japan hosted the formal World Maritime Day parallel event this year in July, and the official IMO event will be held in London tomorrow.

The IMO Secretary-General has also filmed a video message to mark this occasion, and I encourage you to view this on the IMO's website.


The Australian Government is committed to working with the IMO and maritime industry to do all we can to promote seafaring as a viable and rewarding career, and to ensure that entry into the industry is not hampered by requirements that are out-of-step with other contemporary careers.

Australia has had the honour of serving on the IMO Council for more than 45 years, and we hope to continue that service into the next biennium.

We have submitted our candidature for Council membership for the 2016–17 period and we will be looking to you, our friends at the IMO and on broader global interests, for support at the upcoming 29th session of Assembly meeting in London in November.

Australia will continue to be active in regional and global shipping matters to ensure shipping flourishes into the future. Safe and efficient shipping is a high priority for our economy, our trading partners and for our communities.

As fellow members of the IMO, we look forward to working with you in this worthy endeavour.

Thank you for joining me here this evening at the National Museum of Australia and for helping us celebrate World Maritime Day.