World Seafarers Statistic

According to the BIMCO-ISF statistics, the worldwide population of seafarers serving on internationally trading merchant ships is estimated to be approximately 466,000 officers and 721,000 ratings.

Here is a chart indicating the numbers as in 2005:
world-safearers

The OECD countries (North America, Western Europe, Japan etc.) remain a significant source of officers, though Eastern Europe has become progressively important with a large increase in officer numbers. The Far East and South East Asia (the “Far East”), and the Indian sub-continent remain the largest sources of supply of ratings and are fast becoming a key source of officers.

Here is a chart indicating the age structure of officers from OECD countries:
age-structure

The chart shows that the world fleet continues to rely heavily on officers from Europe, North America, Japan and other OECD countries However, over 25% of these are over 50 years old, and well over 50% are over 40. Most are in senior positions such as Masters or Chief Engineers. The impact of their retirement, without adequate numbers of well trained and experienced replacements, could be severe.