Media Release - Over 500 Samoan sailors are plying their trade on cruise liners, cargo vessels and fishing ships around the world, ensuring a flow of $14 million in remittances back to Samoa.
Samoa Shipping Services (S.S.S.) Chief Executive, Lautimuia Afoa Uelese Vaai said their records show that there are 503 active seafarers registered and engaged under employment contracts under the S.S.S. umbrella as of July 31, 2018.
He said the employment of seafarers has translated to estimated annual remittances that averaged $14 million tala a year from wages, which he said contributes to Samoa’s gross domestic product and foreign reserves.
“It’s a competitive industry and aggressive market competing against seafarers from mega powers in Asia, Europe and the Americas, so we have to ensure that our seafarers are well trained, disciplined and fully qualified,” he said in a statement.
“Our major strength is the marketability of our local seafarers mainly because of their natural physical abilities.”
But discipline is a challenge for Samoans in this line of employment, especially alcohol-related incidents, which has resulted in what Lautimuia described as ‘unnecessary termination’ despite the best efforts of the shipping services.
Despite the setback, the S.S.S. continues to look out for new partnerships with global shipping companies in a bid to open up new employment opportunities.
“We do this through building on current networks and aggressive marketing in annual global shipping events such as cruise/cargo ships tradeshows etc.”
The Samoan seafarers program has its foundations in the early 1980s when training began to select crew for the vessels Forum Samoa I and Forum Samoa II. But in recent years, Government has invested millions into the training program, which led to the creation of a training institute for Samoan sailors under the auspices of the National University of Samoa. The employment numbers have since gradually increased.
“But there is always room for improvements. At the end of the day, it’s all about playing our part in the Government employment strategy and also contributing to our local economy and foreign reserves,” added Lautimuia.
According to the records of the S.S.S. currently 243 Samoan sailors work on cruise ships, 75 on cargo ships, 3 on fishing ships, 60 have been confirmed for engagement, 42 are currently on leave, and 80 are new graduates awaiting engagement.