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Farewell to 2020 with reflection but also optimism

In a few days we bid farewell to 2020, a particularly difficult year for all of us. The global spreading of the COVID-19 pandemic and the immense problems it caused created new, unprecedented conditions, to which we are all still trying to adapt.



In the front line, besides doctors and medical staff, are seafarers, who continue to make us proud, staying for months on board to maintain the supply chain. It is essential that the governments of all States imminently recognize seafarers as 'key workers', enabling crew changes and thus the transport of necessary products and materials.


The pandemic, like climate change, did not appear from nowhere. It is the obvious result of continuous human arrogance towards the natural environment, which we degrade through uncontrolled pollution, deforestation, overfishing and illegal wildlife trade.


Amidst these difficult conditions, it is important for us in HELMEPA to realize that our services remain useful to our Members in the shipping sector, as well as to the educational community, with which we have developed strong bonds through the implementation of the "HELMEPA Junior" program and other environmental awareness activities throughout the country.


Thus, it is with satisfaction that we noted the participation of 1,024 Deck and Engine Officers and office staff of 83 managing member-companies in 16 webinars we carried out since April, following the suspension of seminars at HELMEPA's Maritime Training Center due to the pandemic. We wholeheartedly thank the speakers from member-companies, the Training Committee and its Chairman Capt. John Drakogiannopoulos as well as the cooperating entities for their assistance and instant adaptation to distance-learning needs. Their voluntary contribution to our educational work enhances our joint effort for Safe Ships in Clean Seas.


Equally, we thank our partners CYMEPA, Lloyd’s Register and Dynamarine in the 3 year-long project titled "Enhancing the Understanding of New and Enduring Challenges in Maritime Safety Culture in the Eastern Mediterranean", for their valuable cooperation under difficult circumstances, as well as Lloyd’s Register Foundation for continuing to support financially the educational initiatives of HELMEPA. The participation already of 40 managing companies-members in the Voluntary Incident Reporting Platform – VIRP, the positive evaluation by 250 fishermen, motor yacht captains and recreational boaters in Greece and Cyprus who participated in the Safety-at-Sea seminars and webinars as well as the safety awareness campaign and the project's new website to be launched in early 2021, fill us with optimism.


A special moment in the departing year was the recent Meeting of "HELMEPA Junior" Representatives, which due to the pandemic for the first time took place on-line instead of in Athens. We felt extremely proud for the inspirational environmental activities of the 7,580 members of the program throughout Greece and extremely satisfied by the warm words of their 463 teachers regarding the support that HELMEPA continues to offer them during the pandemic "giving them courage to continue". In reality, it is their devotion to and voluntary participation in the HELMEPA Junior program that provides all of us with hope and optimism for a better tomorrow.


2020 was different for us in HELMEPA for yet another reason: we bade farewell to Dimitris Mitsatsos, our Director General for 38 years and the person who contributed substantially towards establishing HELMEPA as a valid and highly esteemed organization worldwide. We thank him for all he has offered and we commit to continue his work with consistency and dedication.


Only a few days ago, the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Members approved amendments to the Articles of Association and a considerable reduction of the annual membership fee, aiming to widen the support base within the Greek maritime community and to further extend the reach of its environmental messages. In the voyage of Greek shipping towards sustainability, we wish HELMEPA to continue having an active role, reminding all of us of the importance of voluntary commitment to marine environmental protection and the achievement of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.


Best wishes for the New Year to all of you; let's hope that the masks will fall in 2021 and we will all come out of this wiser, with sincere love for our fellow humans and with more respect for our natural environment.


Constantinos Triantafillou

Director General