The Big Welfare Debate – London International Shipping Week 2015: A Human Rights at Sea Review


LISW 2015 BannerThe Big Welfare Debate London International Shipping Week 2015: A Human Rights at Sea Review

Maritime Welfare Sector Proposals

Following The Big Welfare Debate at LISW 2015 Human Rights at Sea proposes three improvements for the maritime welfare sector.

First. The establishment of a new funding mechanism directly supported by the maritime industry as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility position towards seafarers and fishermen. Funding should additionally come from the IMO and ILO. This would allow funds to be equally apportioned to all welfare service providers without bias or exemption.

Second. A bi-annual meeting of CEOs of all welfare service providers and supporting organisations, in order to map out respective year’s activities and share details of planned work and events. January and June meetings should be established as a regular Maritime Welfare Top Table event.

Third. That the IMO under its new leadership issues a media statement of overt support to all maritime welfare organisations without bias, thereby setting the standard in terms of leadership for comprehensively addressing welfare issues within the global shipping community.­




Tower BridgeThe 2015 London International Shipping Week provided a clear message to the international community that the global maritime industry is buoyant, confident and expanding.

If the increased levels of marine traffic on the River Thames as reported by the Port of London Authority at the WISTA event at City Hall was representative, business is booming.

People are making this happen, with profit being reinvested.

But what of the situation of seafarer’s welfare, education and support and the service providers who are at the industry frontline in dealing with such issues? Are they equally buoyant, confident and expanding?

The Big Welfare Debate on Tuesday 8th September gave the floor to the charities and welfare organisations.

Following the keynote speech by Clay Maitland of the International Registers and Chairman, NAMEPA the MLC was under fire for its modern day relevance and the IMO was stirred to do more.

Four debating sessions were then delivered.

Inmarsat Marine WelfareFirst. ‘On board with seafarers rights? Overworked, fatigued, socially isolated and often abused: we aren’t yet going far enough to ensure the physical and psychological health of our seafarers at sea’ chaired by Barry Bryant, Director General, Seafarers UK.

Second. ‘Does corporate responsibility only go so far? Fair treatment for seafarers – an aspiration or a reality?’ chaired by Ken Peters, Director of Justice & Public Affairs, Mission to Seafarers.

Third. ‘Seafarers’ welfare – from theory to practice. What is the reality of the implementation of the MLC on welfare provision for seafarers?’ Chaired by Martin Foley, CEO, Apostleship of the Sea.

Fourth. ‘Technology: Changing the face of welfare provision’. Chaired by Stuart Rivers, CEO, Sailors Society.

This was a comprehensive coverage of pertinent issues highlighting the challenges facing both seafarers and welfare organisations in equal measure; the debates were lively and the messaging direct. In sum, more needs to be done for the welfare sector by industry, the IMO and the ILO.

Basic CMYK

Human Rights at Sea attended the Welfare Debate for the first time, noting that its founding principle that “Human Rights apply at sea, as equally as they do on land” was first proposed at the inaugural London International Shipping Week in 2013.

As the new independent charity in the maritime welfare arena looking at seafarers and fishers issues globally and focusing specifically on human rights, the charity was well received. Debate and challenge about establishment, governance and charitable objectives was positive and constructive. The charity did, however, have some direct messaging of its own.

First. Unity of effort. A coordinated approach is urgently needed across the maritime welfare community, as isolated responses and duplication of effort assists nobody. A fragmented approach ultimately affects those very persons who the welfare service providers aim to assist by diluting their individual efforts. Strength is in depth and as such any opportunity for unity should be embraced without exception.

Second. Transparency in Governance. The minimising of conflicts of interest from pre-existing relationships and the cessation of positioning to build singular entities to dominate the maritime welfare space should be addressed. All organisations involved in seafarers welfare need to solely focus on frontline servicing and not become distracted by politicking. It is about our ‘people first’ after all.

Third. Funding. The welfare service organisations are the frontline pastoral first aid and trauma responders for the maritime industry. This position and role is undeniable. It must not be eroded or threatened, but instead fully supported. Unconditional grants and donations should be provided on an equitable basis and according to timely project delivery again without bias.


People first, not profit. Profit comes from people.



Hammond - LISW 2015David Hammond
is the CEO and Founder of the independent maritime human rights charity, Human Rights at Sea.

Human Rights at Sea is a Registered Charity in England and Wales No. 1161673 which has been established for the benefit of the international community for matters concerning explicit engagement with human rights issues in the maritime environment.

For further information:

Human Rights at Sea 9 Bedford Row | London | WC1R 4AZ | United Kingdom




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