Maritime News

ITF reports abuse of foreign fishers to Irish senate

7 July 2017

The ITF in Ireland has made representation to the Irish senate about the exploitation of foreign fishers working in Irish waters.

The ITF called on the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation for sweeping changes to ensure Ireland complies with its own labour laws and meets its European and international obligations in the employment of non-European migrant workers on Irish fishing vessels.

Ken Fleming, ITF coordinator for Ireland and Britain, told the committee that the ITF had evidence of widespread abuse of non-European fishers, including non-payment of wages and malpractice that would indicate trafficking of workers. Although the Irish government had introduced a permit scheme in 2016 to address such abuse, he reported repeated failures by state agencies to enforce the scheme, and that many non-European fishers, mainly from Egypt and the Philippines, were now worse off than before.

In its evidence to the committee, the Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland quoted a survey of non-European migrant fishers in which a third reported routine verbal or physical abuse, 44 percent reported personal injuries during work, almost a half did not feel safe because of exhaustion from very long hours, and two-thirds regularly worked unpaid.

The ITF called for a range of measures to tackle the widespread abuse, including the appointment of the Marine Survey Office as the lead enforcement agency and recognition of the ITF’s expertise in addressing such cases of exploitation - previous offers by the ITF to train up inspectors had fallen on deaf ears. Initiation of legal proceedings against the Irish government is now being considered.



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