Suspected slavery victims rescued from UK fishing boats

Published on
December 15, 2017

Nine African and Asian crew members working on a pair of U.K. scallop trawlers were taken to a place of safety by police earlier this month as suspected victims of modern slavery.

The men – from Ghana, India and Sri Lanka – were identified when one of the vessels came into Portsmouth harbor with a crew member that had suffered a head injury, The Guardian reported.

Five non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals were said to have been found on the vessel and referred by police to the National Crime Agency’s mechanism for investigating human trafficking. Four other non-EEA nationals were later reportedly identified on a second trawler at another port in southwest England and were also taken to safety.

The men are alleged to have worked unlimited hours at sea with very little rest for pay of GBP 850 (USD 1,141, EUR 968) to GBP 950 (USD 1,276, EUR 1,082) per month. The first vessel was detained in Portsmouth with two men arrested and questioned by police.

The newspaper highlighted that the arrests coincide with a new report, published by Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), that claims extensive labor exploitation in the Irish trawler fleet. 

According to MRCI’s report, migrant workers on Irish-owned vessels are experiencing exploitation, discrimination, physical abuse and severe underpayment. Its research is based on interviews with 30 fishermen from Egypt and the Philippines, which found that the majority worked more than 100 hours a week for an average pay of just under EUR 3.00 (USD 3.54) per hour.

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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