• July 31, 2015


The Celtic League has written to the Secretary General of the IMO urging the body to take urgent action to investigate a wide range of concerns raised by a series of articles published in the New York Times.

The articles cover all aspects of abuse at sea and most disturbingly also contain video footage of a number of men being murdered in the water.

“The Secretary-General
Mr. Koji Sekimizu
International Maritime Organisation
4 Albert Embankment

31th July 2015

Dear Secretary General Sekimizu,

I wrote to you recently expressing concern about conditions for Mariners and the regulation of same. At the time we were aware from email exchanges that the prestigious news publication, the New York Times, was to do a series of articles highlighting conditions at sea for Mariners (both mercantile marine and fishermen).

The New York Times have now published their series of articles (the main body of which were compiled by journalist Ian Urbina) in addition there are supplementary articles from a range of sources on Maritime matters.

The url for the Urbina articles entitled THE OUTLAW OCEAN can be found here:


The articles are extremely disturbing cataloguing a wide range of abuses including crew conditions (our original concern) but also highlighting the apparent impunity by which crime including murder can be committed at sea. The articles also highlight the abuse suffered by stowaways (migrants) and also pollution of the marine environment.

I think the New York Times, and Mr Urbina in particular, are to be congratulated on the time and effort they have put into compiling this series.

However it begs the question what are the International Community and indeed bodies such as IMO and ILO prepared to do?

You know Secretary General Sekimizu that the Celtic League has the highest regard for the work of the IMO and we applauded your actions late last year when you took decisive action over the Mediterranean migrant crisis.

I do trust the IMO will act as decisively and set up a commission with other interested agencies such as the ILO and the International Organisation for Migration to investigate these disturbing matters.

I suppose the most telling statement from the Urbina articles on THE OUTLAW OCEAN series is the statement:

“Murders regularly occur offshore — thousands of seafarers, fishermen or sea migrants die under suspicious circumstances annually, maritime officials say — but culprits are rarely held accountable. No one is required to report violent crimes committed in international waters.”

I ask you is this sort of situation acceptable at the beginning of the 21st Century?

We will of course also be writing to the Director General of the ILO as we did following your earlier correspondence. However to date no reply has been received from them which must beg the question is no International agency concerned about mariners and the violence perpetrated at on the worlds oceans?

Yours sincerely

Director of Information
Celtic League

cc ILO”

Related link on Celtic League Facebook pages:


J B Moffatt (Mr)

Director of Information
Celtic League



The Celtic League was established in 1961and has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues


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