Letters to the Editor

Jamaica needs to boost maritime awareness

Monday, September 24, 2018

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Dear Editor,

As we celebrate Maritime Awareness Week over the period September 23-29, 2018, under the theme 'IMO 70: Our Heritage — Better Shipping for a Better Future', it is important that Jamaica examines how to create greater awareness of the industry for a sustainable maritime future.

With such an impressive record in the maritime industry, Jamaica needs a purpose-driven maritime awareness plan. As a global maritime leader in the Caribbean with tangible assets, such as having the seventh-largest natural harbour in the world; being the second-largest trans-shipment hub in the Caribbean region; a leading cruise destination; as well as, having the only International Maritime Organization (IMO)-recognised Maritime Education and Training (MET) institution within the English-speaking Caribbean, namely Caribbean Maritime University, Jamaica has valid reasons to boost maritime awareness and its potential benefits to the Jamaican people.

It is a sad reality that maritime consciousness and awareness are notably lacking among the majority of the Jamaican people. Many Jamaicans are of the view that all the goods that they purchase or gifts that they receive from abroad are transported by air. On the contrary, this is not the case, as most items are transported by sea, mainly because of the economics of that mode of transportation. The potential earnings and opportunities of the shipping industry are yet to be satisfactorily unearthed to benefit the Jamaican economy. Purpose-driven awareness will give focal perspective to areas that could be expanded within the industry.

The Caribbean Maritime University has been playing a pivotal role in preparing leaders for the global maritime industry while creating international partnerships. The sustainable supply of competent personnel, especially seafarers, is a major challenge for the maritime industry and requires long-term strategic planning. Such a long-term approach should necessarily consider the early introduction of maritime awareness in national curricula. This could contribute to widening awareness of the need for sustainable maritime development and for coordinated maritime policies.

As Jamaicans we must think about sustaining and maintaining the maritime name we have earned in the industry. We must think about diversification and innovation for a better industry. A purpose-driven awareness plan to enhance sustainability of the industry is a long-term strategy for better shipping and better future for Jamaica in the global maritime space is a must!

Simone Heirs

Lecturer, maritime studies

Caribbean Maritime University

scunningham@faculty.cmi.edu.jm

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