According to the IMO, the global shortage of seafarers, especially officers, has already reached serious proportions, threatening the very future of the international shipping industry, which is the lifeblood of the world trade.
Recent reports have identified a current supply requirement of 498,000 in 2008, with an officer shortfall of 34,000. This figure is expected to rise to a projected officer shortfall in 2012 of 83,9000.
The "Go to Sea"! campaign was launched in November 2008 in association with the Internatinal Labour Organization, the "Round Table" of shipping NGOs-BIMCO, ICS/ISF, INTERCARGO and INTERTANKO-and the International Transport Workers Federation.
The specific aim is to promote seafaring as an attractive option for young people of the right calibre, one which can provide them with rewarding, stimulating and long-term prospects, not only at sea but also in the broader maritime industry.
With the "Go to Sea!" initiative, IMO has opened an umbrelle under which industry and Governments can mount their own campaigns to improve seafarer recruitment.
If the global pool of competent and efficient seafarers is to meet future demand, then seafaring must be presented to younger generations as a vaible career choice.