Friday, May 22, 2009

National Maritime Day

Today is National Maritime Day, intended to honor all those who work in the maritime industry.

Since I've worked either in the industry or in companies closely allied with it, I have a special appreciation for it. The Port of Oakland used to sponsor Maritime Day/World Trade Day at Jack London Square, hoping to increase public awareness of the importance of shipping to the local economy. Most of California's agricultural exports (and a lot of frozen poultry from Arkansas and Georgia) move through the Port of Oakland, due to its proximity to the Central Valley. Sadly, as shipping lines consolidated, moved their offices out of the Bay Area, and trimmed their advertising budgets, Maritime Day disappeared. So most people have no clue how their cell phones, computers, DVD players, Wiis, automobiles, and other gadgets get here.

Nor do they realize how important California's agricultural exports are to the U.S. balance of trade.

Or how many jobs ultimately are dependent on the maritime trade (and not just Wal*Mart, although they are probably the nation's largest maritime customer).

I wonder if President Obama and his people have a clue?

(Picture of the APL Singapore heading to the Port of Oakland. Taken by me from Pier 14 in San Francisco, July 2008. APL--formerly American President Line--is now a wholly-owned subsidary of Neptune Orient Lines of Singapore. But that's a subject for another day.)