Modern Slavery - A scathing Report
Received from: Densham and Associates - the GMDSS specialists
The following was published in the March 07 2001 edition of Lloyds List

Modern 'slave' trade revealed by inquiry
Icons to name and shame worst offenders, write Rob McKay and Sandy Galbraith in Sydney - Wednesday March 07 2001.

A MAJOR international inquiry has found that life at sea is close to modern 'slavery' for thousands of today's seafarers. Many die or are injured at sea, but no one knows the exact number, because proper records are not kept.
The International Commission on Shipping (Icons), chaired by former Australian transport minister Peter Morris, has produced a scathing report that alleges maltreatment on a scale likely to overshadow anything seen on land in the "sweat shops" of Asia.
The year-long Icons inquiry heard evidence that tens of thousands of seafarers in 10%-15% of the world's commercial shipping fleet work in slave conditions, with minimal safety, for long hours for little or no pay and starvation diets. 
Some are even subjected to rape and beatings. The report was immediately dismissed by Chris Horrocks, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Shipping Federation (ISF), as a wasted exercise.
"We are very disappointed, given the huge amount of International Transport Federation funding for this exercise. A rare opportunity to make constructive suggestions about the industry has apparently been lost. Even if the full report contains useful material, it will be difficult to take seriously an analysis which describes the shipping industry with such emotive terms as 'slavery'," said Mr Horrocks. The ICS was responding to evidence presented to the inquiry that told of crew who had disappeared after complaints to officers and employer practices of blacklisting sailors who had sought union help in collecting unpaid wages.
Releasing the report in Sydney, at the International Symposium on Safer Shipping in the Apec Region, Mr Morris outlined 43 key recommendations, the most controversial of which would be the naming and shaming of companies benefiting from shipboard malpractice.
Mr Morris, who also chaired the groundbreaking Ships of Shame inquiry in Australia in the early 1990s, said the greatest obscenity was that the beneficiaries of suffering at sea included some of the wealthiest individuals and corporations on earth. Appalling practices have continued despite efforts by the majority of shipping operators, governments and international agencies to curtail them, he said. 
This was because cargo owners supported companies using substandard ships.
It was time to shame their actions and shut down the infamous operations, Mr Morris told the conference. Other Icons recommendations include deterrent financial penalties on owners of detained ships, stricter control of manning agencies and the prohibition of the practice of blacklisting seafarers. 
Mr Morris added that the beneficial owners/operators of vessels that worked outside the norm were, on average, enjoying a 15%-16% marketing advantage over companies that operated in a responsible manner. Furthermore, the commission had been impressed by the almost universal calls for full transparency across the international shipping industry. There was strong support for the expansion of the international online data system, Equasis, and the addition of information on charterers and major cargo owners to its database.
The calls for greater transparency extended beyond the corporate veil on shipownership and commercial operations to include information on crew illnesses, injuries and fatalities, effective accident and incident investigation procedures and public reporting of the investigations,declared Mr Morris.
The Icons chairman said he believed the recommendations were pragmatic and achievable.
With the commitment of industry and government interests, he said, the bulk of them could be progressively implemented within 18 months.

Icons slams industry that condemns thousands to live as 'slaves'
Cargo owners bear the brunt as fishing industry, class, flag states and IMO members find themselves in chairman Peter Morris's firing line. 
Rob McKay in Sydney reports.-
Wednesday March 07 2001
PETER Morris and the International Commission on Shipping could not have been more blunt in their Inquiry into Ship Safety - they named the report, Ships, Slaves and Competition.
In his chairman's address to the International Symposium on Safer Shipping in the Apec Region, in Sydney, Mr Morris began by elaborating on the name.
"Ships" referred to the operations of international shipping.  "Slaves" to the tens of thousands of seafarers, mostly from developing nations, "who are exploited, abused and ill-treated in pursuit of lower freight rates". 
"Competition' highlighted the unequal struggle between quality shipowners that comply with international safety requirements, and substandard operators who do not, and as a result benefit unfairly from setting lower standards and lower costs .
The Icons chairman laid the blame squarely at the feet of cargo owners. "It is this struggle to satisfy the demands of cargo owners for lower and lower freight rates that drives the operation of unsafe ships, the inhumane treatment of seafarers and the destruction of  the marine environment," he told the conference. Allied to them were unscrupulous shipowners. 
They, encouragingly, only make up 10%-15% of the industry but stand to gain 15%-16% in savings from ignoring safety protocols. But they were not alone. The list of villains included the fishing industry - which rated an annexe all of its own - class, flag states, port state control, International Maritime Organisation member states, those who abuse crews, and, possibly above these, the lack of transparency in the industry.
The obsessive secrecy that dogs shipping was almost universally criticised by the 400-plus people and organisations Icons took evidence from. Its causes are historic, of course, and rooted in the light control and lack of scrutiny the industry has always operated in. But it seems that the section of the industry willing to talk to Icons their names revealed by a body with "no powers to compel or protect" - want to see an end to it.
"The calls for greater transparency extended beyond the corporate veil on ship ownership and commercial operations to include information on crew illnesses, injuries and fatalities, effective accident and incident investigation procedures, and public reporting of the investigations," Mr Morris said.
"Because at the moment, delegates, as most of you know, nobody knows how many die or are injured at sea. If you want to get reported, sink the ship."
He noted that such circumstances do not exist elsewhere. "To some it seemed that sectors of the industry were determined never to learn from the past errors and accidents - in contrast to the moves towards accountability in other transport sectors," he said. "In road, rail and air transport public identification of the causes of crashes and fatalities is the enabling tool for better designs, better safety standards and safer practices to be developed."
Class took a thorough drubbing at the hands of witnesses. The Icons report stated: "Classification societies were the most widely criticised bodies in the course of the commission's inquiries."
Although their technical strengths were acknowledged and considered necessary by all parties, the extent of criticism of their commercial relationships with owners and flag states was noted. This extended to I acs, which was criticised for not doing enough to eliminate much of shipping's dross, while holding the power to do so.
Judging from Mr Morris's address, in taking evidence Icons found itself faced with certain imponderables. Chief of these related to fixing the deficiencies of flag states. With its professed acceptance and belief that international problems require international solutions, how does the IMO, hamstrung as it is by a membership which is averse to giving it the power to act, enforce flag state performance? 
The report recognises that the problems of unilateralism and regionalism which beset the IMO, and which also cause acute concern to the global maritime community, are of the IMO members' own making. This contributed to the problems of another area, port state control. These include chaos in procedures and processes, and lax targeting of ships for inspection, International Safety Management audits, and International Labour Organisation compliance.
IMO secretary-general William O'Neil was placed in an uncomfortable position by criticism from his members. Having been given advance warning by Mr Morris just before the start of the symposium, Mr O'Neil, launched into a robust defence of IMO's role in putting together a credible STCW white list and ISM code. Yet the Icons report points to major dissatisfaction with this aspect of the organisation. So what are the solutions?
Most intriguing was the call to the Japanese to take a lead in the Asia-Pacific region. He pointedly quoted the Japanese transport ministry vice-minister for international affairs, Katsuji Doi, who told a Singapore shipping safety seminar 12 months ago: "Japan believes all countries should join forces to create an environment which is hostile towards substandard shipping, with regions working together to develop conditions in which substandard shipping is no longer tolerated." Icons has challenged Japan to make a stand, given its own vulnerability on this front.
"This is Japan's opportunity to lead this region's eradication of substandard shipping and ensure its inhuman practices and conditions, in Mr Doi's words, are simply 'no longer tolerated'." Rewarding quality operators is a recommendation that is sure to gain ready backing from the industry. As well as greater Japanese leadership, Icons proposed a host of solutions in an ambitious wish-list. But as the most humane survey of the state of global shipping, the group's findings are unlikely to be easily ignored.
Indeed, if the solutions are as quick and easy to implement as Mr Morris believes, and if the political will can be harnessed, as Mr Morris is confident it will be, the maritime world may yet smile at Icons' efforts. The wider world may do so, too.
Recommendations from Icons 
- Stronger supervision of classification societies by the European Commission and tougher policy applications by the societies to their clients;
- Improved flag state performance;
- Tighter port state controls and implementation of reward systems for quality ships;
- More rigorous inspections for ISM compliance;
- Severe penalties for charterers and major shippers using substandard ships;
- Establishment of a confidential ship safety incident reporting system (Coshirs) - based on aviation's Care system;
- Deterrent financial penalties on owners of detained ships;
- Reduction of multiple inspections of ships;
- Stricter control of manning agencies and prohibition of blacklisting of seafarers;
- Ending the abuse and ill-treatment of seafarers and their families;
- Support for abandoned seafarers and seafarer welfare organisations;
- Lifting training and qualifications and ending fraudulent practices on crewing;
- Support for international agencies such as IMO and ILO;
- Designation of ports of distress. 
- Issues
- Criticism of the performance of classification societies and the failure of flag states to carry out their responsibilities;
- Ill-treatment and underpayment of crew, inconsistencies in port state control, crew competency, crew availability, fraudulent certificates;
- The failure of IMO members to give IMO authorities support in the performance of their duties;
- An almost unanimous call for full transparency of information in the industry;
- Criticism of the Convention on Standards of Training Certification and Watch Keeping white list process;
- Passport holders without maritime qualifications;
- Non-compliance with ILO conventions;
- Horrors of the international fishing industry;


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Version: 15-Mar-01 / Rev.: 13-Jun-11 / HBu