• November 20, 2015


I have written today on behalf of the Celtic League to express concern at the most recent report into the loss of a British Motor Fishing Vessel, the MFV Ocean Way.

Those of us on the Isle of Man, familiar with the many sea fishery tragedies that occur will wonder why, after innumerable MAIB reports recording maintenance shortcomings which lead to vessels foundering and crewmen drowning, that these tragic incidents continue.

An added dimension in this loss of the MFV Ocean Way is that the crewmen were migrant workers who died many thousands of miles from home.

We have, in conjunction with journalist Ian Urbina on the New York Times, previously highlighted labour abuses which occur involving migrant seafarers.

We have asked Minister of State George Eustace at DEFRA to address both issues i.e. safety and migrant labour – if necessary in conjunction with other government Departments.

A copy of our letter to the DEFRA Minister is set out below:

“George Eustace MP
Minister of State for Farming, Food, and the Marine Environment
Nobel House
17 Smith Square

18th November 2015

Dear Minister,

I read with concern the recent report of the MAIB into the loss of the Motor Fishing Vessel Ocean Way which capsized 100 miles East of Tynemouth last year.

Sadly this is just the latest tragedy involving an inadequately maintained motor fishing vessel in which a number of crewmen were drowned.

Will you be liaising with MAIB to establish what steps can be taken to improve safety within the industry.

On a related point I note the two crewmen who drowned along with the skipper of the vessel were of Filipino origin.

Are you aware of recent research and articles about the abuses and poor conditions suffered by fishermen recruited from third world countries (via agencies) that have been recently published in the New York Times (NYT).

I have on behalf of the Celtic League been liaising with the author of these articles and I can assure you that they make disturbing reading. The Celtic League (as an accredited UN NGO) has also raised these matters with both the ILO and the IMO.

What steps are you taking (if necessary in conjunction with other government Departments) to ensure that migrant workers working on fishing vessels are:

Properly protected and safety trained
Not subjected to exploitation either by their employer or agencies

I look forward to hearing from you as a matter of urgency particularly as in this instance we are talking about a situation where lives were lost.

I would be grateful if you would pass our correspondence to the MAIB, the Home Office and DWP and would welcome their response on both the safety and labour exploitation issues (if your Department is unable to do so please let me know and I will contact them directly).

A copy of the article by NYTs Ian Urbina can be found at the link below. It is part of a series the New York Times has published and will continue to publish on these issues:

Yours sincerely
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information”
BBC report on the Ocean Way loss and MAIB report here:

Issued by: The Celtic News



The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues


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