As we commemorate World Maritime Day 2023, we celebrate the global significance of our oceans and the vital role that maritime activities play in connecting and sustaining the world.
The theme for this year’s World Maritime Day — MARPOL @ 50 — reflects on the continuing journey to mitigate pollution generated from maritime shipping, being cognisant that it is indeed a journey that requires constant introspection to improve the way we conduct business in our oceans and seas. It is also an occasion to remind us of the indispensable nature of the maritime industry in our daily lives. From the goods we consume to the energy we rely on, the maritime sector is the lifeline that ensures the efficient functioning of maritime trade, transportation and exploration.
We also pay tribute to the men and women who dedicate their lives to the countless tasks that take place at, or connect with, the sea. From seafarers and port workers, to marine engineers, and administrators, their continuing commitment ensures the safe and efficient operations of vessels, ports and maritime infrastructure globally.
For Grenada, it is also an opportunity to refocus our efforts towards improving the safe operation of all vessels within our maritime space. This is critical to mitigate accidents and prevent the loss of life. Further, it is important to maintain and improve ongoing national conservation and protection goals and targets.
The State of Grenada is an archipelago with over 30 islands. There is a significant disparity in scale between our land spaces, (345 sq. km. approx.) to marine spaces (27,000 sq. km. approx.). This ratio suggests that we must profoundly consider the immense possibilities that the maritime domain offers.
Grenada’s marine sector — from fishing to shipping — contributes a substantial amount of income to the local economy. But we still should be exploiting a range of opportunities from sustainable business ventures, maritime research, maritime employment opportunities (engineers, captains, deck officers), and also the educational opportunities available at the 3 regional maritime universities (in Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana) and further afield.
There is a military adage that states, “luck favours the prepared mind,” and informed by this, our peoples must be prepared to grasp the opportunities when presented.
We also acknowledge the continuous efforts made by international organisations such as the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), stakeholders and policy makers in promoting sustainable practices within the maritime sector. As we face many pressing challenges such as climate change, sea level rise, pollution and the protection of marine bio-diversity, their collective endeavours are crucial in preserving the well-being of our oceans for future generations.
The value of our oceans cannot be over-emphasised, and we stress the need for responsible stewardship and governance. As we navigate a complex and rapidly changing world, it is important that we embrace innovation, collaboration and forward-thinking approaches to ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for the maritime industry and all nations.
On this World Maritime Day, 28 September, let us unite in shared commitment to appreciate, protect and harness the potential of our oceans. Collectively, if we do this right, we can continue to responsibly harness the power of the seas to sustain a brighter future for all.
Director of Maritime Affairs