In June 2018 Nicholas Barends, the Stella Maris South Africa national director, found a letter on his office desk from a fishing crew. In it, the crew wrote about the appalling conditions on their vessel. Water was leaking in, there were no life jackets on board, fresh water was scarce and they had skin conditions from washing in seawater. The crew were terrified about setting sail but were worried about speaking out.
Nicholas immediately went to visit the ship, saw the problems for himself, and contacted the port state control. But when he returned the following day, the ship had sailed. Stella Maris’ crisis team in London quickly called their team in Taiwan to ensure the fishing boat was visited as soon as it docked. The vessel was detained under the new ILO fishing convention – the first detention of its kind – and the crew were paid outstanding wages and repatriated.
Without our intervention, these frightened and unpaid fishermen could still be working in slave-like conditions.
– Jonathan Heard, Stella Maris, London
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