STILL AT SEA Competition Winners Announced

PRESS RELEASE: “Hero at sea” wins ITF Seafarers’ Trust photography competition

For immediate release

30 October 2020

“Hero at sea” wins ITF Seafarers’ Trust photography competition

The ITFST has today announced the winners of the Still At Sea photography competition, which invited seafarers to submit digital photos of their lives at sea during the pandemic. The competition received an incredible response; with almost 3,000 photographs submitted. The photos showed the huge variety of experiences of seafarers at sea during the pandemic, from personal portraits and day to day life, to extreme weather and deserted cruise ships.

The first prize of £1000 was won by Ike S. Dagandanan for his photo “Hero At Sea”. At a glance this striking image looks like an old master painting but closer inspection reveals crew members wrestling to secure cargo in wildly stormy seas. It was singled out by judges as showing the reality of the dangers seafarers face, the dramatic elemental weather and the sheer scale of the ship and seas around the seafarers struggling to contain the cargo after 40 days at sea in total lockdown. With stoic understatement, Mr Dagandanan wrote “Enroute from China to Argentina, 40 days at sea, [we] experienced bad weather and caused some of our stanchion posts to collapse, we did our best seamanship to protect our cargo, ship and environment”.

A total contrast, the second prize was awarded to Jay Michael A. Ebueza for his photo “Secretly Quiet”. Mr Ebueza’s description commented simply “Amidst pandemic, beauty exists”. Judges were impressed with the beauty and composition of the arctic coastal landscape as seen from the bridge of a ship, as well as its message of hope and demonstration of the resilience of seafarers who can see the beauty of the natural world despite the impact of the pandemic.

The Still at Sea competition was conceived to connect with seafarers who have had to stay at sea well beyond their contracts and, arguably, in contravention of their human rights as governments around the world have failed to cooperate to facilitate crew changes. Third prize was awarded to Carlo Deuxson Santiago for his image “No sign off? No problem” of a seafarer “flying away” on a broomstick. Many entries to the competition showed a great sense of humour, imagination and fun with this image encapsulating the creative response of seafarer to a seriously frustrating situation.

In addition, judges recognised three further photographs as highly commended. Ceo Angelo D. Fajardo’s image of a seafarer cadet, “Back to Work”; John Rufo M. Bontilao’s “Shower Party” depicting seafarers cleaning out a cathedral-like ship’s hold; and Mayvine Cloma’s “A Brave Woman that can make a difference” portrait of a seafarer.

President of World Maritime University, Dr Cleopatra Doumbiah-Henry said “In judging the competition, it was impossible to ignore the impact that the pandemic has had on seafarers, however the beauty and humour that seafarers often chose to highlight in their photos is a testament to the resilience of those who work aboard ship.”

Another judge, Jenn-Hui Tan, Head of Global Stewardship at Fidelity International, used his vote to poll Fidelity’s global workforce to raise awareness within the finance sector of the critical role played by seafarers in supply chains and the pressure created by the challenges around crew change.

“The response to ‘Still at sea’ has been phenomenal” said Katie Higginbottom, Head of ITF Seafarers’ Trust “The judges had an almost impossible task in making their selection from such an array of accomplished and hugely varied photographs. We’re really pleased for the winners, but more than that we’re delighted to have amassed a unique archive that reflects the breadth of seafarers’ experience during this extraordinary time of pandemic. Together with the images we have a rich collection of stories and descriptions of how it is to be still at sea while the pandemic rolls on.”

The Seafarers’ Trust intends to use the ‘Still at sea’ archive to raise awareness of the day-to-day lives of seafarers to the world outside maritime.


More information visit the competition website:

For further queries please contact:

Mary Bollan, Office and Communications Manager, email:
Tel: +44 (0)7786 516131

Note to editors

The ITF Seafarers Trust is a UK charity established in 1981, which funds programmes that advance the wellbeing of maritime workers, seafarers and their families. We are funded by the Trust’s own capital funds, and by the investment income of the Welfare Fund at the International Transport Workers Federation, a global federation of transport workers’ unions with nearly 20 million worker members.


Facebook: @ITFtrust

Twitter:  @Seafarers_Trust

Instagram: @SeafarersTrust


Judge bios

Rory Carnegie, Photographer

Rory Carnegie has won numerous awards and exhibited in museums and galleries around the world, including Russia, USA and the UK. He conceived and created the (UK) National Crime Agency’s campaign on Modern Slavery, which travelled to 14 cities in the UK, and has recently ran a yearlong photographic project working with people that have experienced homelessness, in which they recreated iconic images.

Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President, World Maritime University

With over three decades of professional and academic experience, Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, an international lawyer, is the 7th President of the World Maritime University (WMU), the first woman President and the first President from a developing country.

Dr. Doumbia-Henry began her career at the University of the West Indies, Barbados and later worked at the Iran-US Claims Tribunal in The Hague, and the World Bank. She then held various senior positions at the International Labour Organization (ILO), where she spearheaded the development of the innovative and historic ILO Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), 2006, now ratified by 97 member States to date, representing 91% of the world gross tonnage of ships.

She has published extensively on a wide range of international law subjects.

Stefan F Lindberg, Photographer

Born in 1951 in Stockholm, Sweden., Stefan F Lindberg was educated in the early 1970s at Christer Strömholm’s photography school. From 1996-2006 he was responsible for education at the Nordic School of Photography. Lindberg has written several educational books on photography and taught photojournalism at MidSweden University in Sundsvall.

As a photographer Lindberg has documented the development and change of the seafarer’s profession during the 20th and 21st century, publishing four books on the subject. Lindberg works mainly with major photographic projects that result in books, exhibitions and films. He is currently working on a new Seafarers’ project and a project on Labour Migration in Africa.

Jenn-Hui Tan, Global Head of Stewardship & Sustainable Investing, Fidelity International

Jenn-Hui Tan is Global Head of Stewardship & Sustainable Investing for Fidelity International.

Jenn is responsible for providing external and internal leadership for Fidelity’s sustainable investing activities, including the strategy and policies on engagement, voting and ESG integration.

Jenn joined Fidelity International in 2007 from Norton Rose Fulbright, where he was a corporate finance lawyer advising on capital market and M&A transactions. He holds an LLB Law degree from the University of Durham.



In spite of the Covid-19 pandemic global trade by sea has continued beyond the public gaze of most countries. Whilst seafarers have continued to work, governments have taken different measures to protect their citizens and their economies. Some industries have virtually ground to a halt, including airlines. Infections rates have peaked, troughed, stabilised, and jumped up again, but the virus has remained unchecked.

At the beginning of the pandemic seafarers were relatively safe at sea but worried for their families. With countries in lockdown it became apparent that seafarers would have difficulty getting home. The maritime unions and the shipping industry worked together with the International Maritime Organisation to develop protocols to facilitate repatriation and crew changes. The IMO framework of protocols were issued on 05 May 2020, shortly after the ITF launched its ‘Enough is Enough’ campaign, but despite this, the response from governments has been indifferent and hundreds of thousands of seafarers are still at sea. Instead of recognising seafarers as key workers and getting them home, their contracts have been extended well beyond terms that can be considered humane.

In some senses the shipping industry is simple. There are customers with goods that need to be shipped from one port to another and shipowners with ships that will provide this service for a fee. However in reality shipping is perhaps the foremost example of the complexity of economic globalisation. Ships are crewed by seafarers from one side of the world and owned by banks and businesses on the opposite side. They are likely registered in a third country such as Panama or Liberia, financed in China, insured from London, managed out of Hong Kong or Singapore, and trading all over the world. Although there is international regulation, the diffusion of responsibility makes seafarers uniquely vulnerable when it comes to asserting and defending their rights.

At no point has this been more evident than during the unfolding crew change crisis that has seen seafarers stranded at sea for many months beyond the terms of their contracts. Whilst their resilience has been tested to the limits, their ability to take a firm stand has been brutally undermined by the fear of future unemployment.

Seafarers are the hidden key workers – transporting the raw materials and consumer goods that keep hospitals running, power stations pumping and shipping essential consumer goods.

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