Seafarers UK Director General issues supporting message for Human Rights at Sea

Press Release

7th June 2019

London, UK. On the occasion of the forthcoming retirement of Commodore Barry Bryant CVO Royal Navy, Director General Seafarers UK, Commodore Bryant has issued a supporting message to Human Rights at Sea on behalf of Seafarers UK for its ongoing work and impact.

“When I came to Seafarers UK some 17 years ago after three decades in the RN and a recent spell in charge of the Navy’s personnel service conditions, the question of commercial or fishing seafarers having ‘rights’ was rarely heard. The focus of the many welfare charities was on patching up the pieces after whatever damage had been done, rather than any intervention, education or even regulation to avoid damage in the first place.

I’m very glad to have been working in this sector at a time of great change; a general realisation led by Trade Unions and others that the industry’s overriding profit motive had to be leavened by common humanity, and we at Seafarers UK were among the first to recognise the many possibilities, and indeed necessities, that the then embryo Human Rights at Sea organisation could offer.

Receipt of first donor start-up funds from Seafarers UK in 2014

Against some not inconsiderable opposition, we decided to take the risk of providing seed-corn funding to allow David Hammond and his small team to commence operations. We have had to defend that early decision, and our ongoing support, over the intervening years, but we believe it has always been the right thing to do.

It has not been plain sailing; resources have always been tight and the load has been heavy. There have been knock-backs and challenges, but the recent clear demands within the Geneva Declaration, and the similar clarity on the status and rights of share fishermen at a turbulent time for their industry, stand witness to the need for such an organisation that can both hold to account and act as the community’s conscience.

Perhaps greater than the individual initiatives and victories has been the much very wider recognition that seafarers are not only human but they absolutely have rights, at sea as much as on land, and that there are organisations prepared to make those points in the highest maritime courts in the world.

Seafarers UK congratulates Human Rights at Sea for their dedication and perseverance in the face of adversity, and wishes them every success in the future.”

Donor funding from Seafarers UK has enabled the charity to both start, and continue its research, education, advocacy and lobbying work since inception in 2014.

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