Aug 312010

Olivia Jean - keeping the pressgang alive

Look past the UK Maritime Accident Investigation Branch’s comment “From the state of the vessel, and the way in which it was being operated, it could be construed that the owner (of the Annan, Scotland-based scalloper Olivia Jean) was showing a total disregard for the safety and welfare of his employees and share-fishermen on board” and its criticism of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency “In the case of Olivia Jean, the MCA’s ability to establish and impose the regulations has been ineffective, and the owner was able to operate the vessel in flagrant breach of existing regulations” and one comes across just a hint of the dreadful and abusive conditions that applied on the vessels of Olivia Jean Ltd and TN Trawlers.

Set aside the painful hour a seafarer with ribs broken by a parted trawl wire and, at the time, undetermined internal injuries, had to wait until assistance was called for, an the appalling lack of concern for safety, read this extract:

“At the time of the accident, Olivia Jean was being operated by a crew of nine, of whom seven were foreign nationals on fixed term contracts. Some of the crew had come to the UK expecting to work on merchant vessels on deep sea trades. Instead, they found themselves working excessive hours contrary to the regulations for employed crew, in an arduous work environment, in a trade for which they had received no training. Having expected 4 month contracts, they had been told that their contracts were of 18 months duration. There was no crew agreement on board Olivia Jean, and the company was holding all of the Ghanaian crewmen’s papers and passports, allowing them no opportunity to leave his employ.”

That is not seafaring. That is slavery. There’s little surprise that potentially fatal accident should occur, and have occurred, on vessels in this company’s fleet,

Britain’s fishing fleet now depends on foreign nationals to man its vessels. How many of those seafarers are subject to this level of unethical exploitation is unknown but MAC has an uncomfortable feeling that Olivia Jean is just the tip of a very unpleasant iceberg.

MAIB Report

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.