Feature – Celebrating the Past, Protecting the Future: Maritime Week A Success

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A participant looks at a display??by the Barbados Port Inc. last Wednesday during a careers presentation for Maritime Week at the SJPP. (G. Brewster/BGIS)

Issues of safety and piracy in Caribbean waters were the top priority of the recently concluded week of activities in recognition of World Maritime Day, which had as its theme Piracy – Caribbean Issues of Safety and Security. Along with a church service, lecture, and interactive discussion, the Ministry of International Business and International Transport also paid special tribute to seafarers both past and present in appreciation of their invaluable contribution to the economy.????

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Professor Henry Fraser delivering his informative and entertaining lecture ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ last Tuesday at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre. (C.Pitt/BGIS)??

On Tuesday, September 27, Professor Henry Fraser delivered an informative and entertaining lecture entitled Pirates and the Caribbean to an audience of avid maritime professionals and enthusiasts. Professor Fraser captivated the audience at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, telling gripping tales of infamous pirates such as Edward Blackbeard Teach, Henry Morgan and the female duo of Anne Bonney and Mary Read.

Understanding that Barbadians generally do not recognise piracy in surrounding waters as a threat, Professor Fraser put things into perspective: "Piracy is a war-like act, committed by private parties not affiliated with any government, against other parties at sea.

??"What we appear to have in the Caribbean is a range of criminal acts, from simple theft from a boat at anchor, to aggressive armed robbery, with brutality and sometimes murder, both in port and at sea, in territorial waters, or more rarely, just outside the 12-mile limit of territorial waters.

"It does not take a wild stretch of the imagination to conceive that our three epidemics of the last 30 years, the drug epidemic, our HIV and AIDS epidemic, and our Chronic Disease Epidemic, could be followed by an epidemic of piracy and armed robbery on the waters between our islands," Professor Fraser cautioned. He added, "And it only takes one nasty incident with a well-known celebrity…to kill Caribbean tourism."

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Secretary, Deborah Payne, presenting Ali Horton with the Minister’s Award of Excellence while Deputy Principal of the SJPP, Hector Belle, looks on??, last week Wednesday at??the??careers??presentation for Maritime Week at the??SJPP. (G. Brewster/BGIS)??

On Wednesday, September 28, the Ministry organised an interactive and educational discussion for senior students of secondary schools and those enrolled in the Maritime Programme at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJPP). In the opening remarks, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of International Business and International Transport, Deborah Payne stated that the discussion "had been organised to provide a forum where students and experts in the field of maritime transport could have a direct and free exchange about matters in the industry."

Students from the St. Michael’s School, Lester Vaughn Secondary, Springer Memorial, St. James Secondary, Alexandra Secondary, St. Lucy Secondary, and the Metropolitan High School gathered in the Steel Shed, Queen’s Park, where they were given the opportunity to meet and discuss the possibilities of careers in maritime with persons currently working in the field.

Akil Horton, a student of the SJPP, received the Minister’s Award for Outstanding Performance, leading to a certificate in Maritime Operations during the academic year 2010/2011. He, along with the other students present, were encouraged to pursue maritime careers by various leaders in the industry including Shipping Superintendent of

the Ministry of International Business and International Transport, Walter Best; Commander of the Barbados Coast Guard, Sean Reece; Harbour Master of the Barbados Port, Richard Alleyne; and a representative from COSCAP, Gail Callender.

To bring the curtain down on the week of activities, a reunion luncheon was held in appreciation of seafarers both past and present, recognising the contribution they have made to the economic and social development of Barbados. Giving his opening remarks, Acting Minister of International Business and International Transport, Adriel Brathwaite stated, "Barbadians, and by extension Caribbean seafarers, worked and lived under extremely difficult conditions, sometimes without the appropriate gear and clothing, but they did it without complaints from their family and country.

"Barbados’ economy benefitted from seafaring when tourism, manufacturing and international business were new and emerging concepts for economic development. During that period, the economy relied heavily on the foreign exchange earned from the sale of sugar and the remittances from seafarers and migrant workers to the USA, Canada and the UK."

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Ministry officials and seafearers enjoying the food at the seafearers luncheon, Saturday at Almond Bay, Hastings. (A.Miller/BGIS)??

The luncheon served as a gesture of gratitude for seafarers as well as providing the opportunity to share memories, fond or otherwise, of their days at sea. Mr. Braithwaite concluded, "Seafarers, we thank and salute you – we wish you fair winds and calm seas and pray that, when the time comes, you return home to your families and friends, safe and sound, especially those of you that might be in the hands of pirates somewhere …at the same time, we honour the memory of those colleagues of yours who lost their lives in the service of shipping."

Last Thursday, September 29, marked World Maritime Day. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO), a specialised agency of the United Nations headquartered in London, has a mission to promote safe, secure, environmentally sound, efficient and sustainable shipping. IMO uses World Maritime Day to focus attention on the importance of safe shipping, maritime security and the marine environment. This year, there was an international focus on safety and security, with the overarching theme Piracy – Orchestrating the Response.

In Barbados, the Ministry used the IMO’s theme as guidance, while ensuring that issues affecting Barbados and the wider Caribbean were placed at the forefront.

alicia.griffith@barbados.gov.bb

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