25 January 2022, London
- Pescatlant Ltd has been accused of a series of labour abuses including forced labour, crew abandonment and unpaid wages.
- Pescatlant Ltd are also accused of failing to provide compensation to a fisher who died in an accident at work.
- The International Transport Workers’ Federation, representing fishers and seafarers around the world, are calling on UK firms to do more to stop these labour violations and doubt that there is any mechanism in place to avoid those situations arising with the rest of their seafood suppliers.
- UK based seafood buyer J Marr has been accused of profiting from forced labour as transport unions call for more action to stamp out supply chain labour abuses.
Inspectors working for the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), who represent fishers and seafarers around the world, have been forced to intervene in a number of serious labour abuses by Pescatlant, the company which owns vessels in the supply chain of a major British food brand. These abuses have included forced labour, crew abandonment, unpaid wages and failure to provide compensation to a fisher who died in an accident at work.
The allegations are being made by the inspectors against Pescatlant Ltd, who supply J. Marr (Seafoods) Ltd, a major UK fisheries company based in Hull, and a subsidiary of Andrew Marr International Ltd.
Although J. Marr have been communicating and cooperating with the ITF to investigate the situation, the union inspectors say the company has not done enough to stop ongoing labour violations in their supply chain. The inspectors say J Marr needs to adopt mechanisms to ensure there are no abuses towards fisheries workers in their supply chain.
Chris Williams, fisheries expert for International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), said:
“These cases are shocking and unacceptable, but sadly not uncommon, even in European ports, UK regulators, seafood buyers and consumers need to know when they read statements and commitments about modern slavery and forced labour that these are genuine and not just marketing fairwash. J Marr clearly states they take ‘’necessary actions to prevent the abuse of workers at all stages within our supply chain and to comply with the provisions of the Modern Slavery Act” – If these labour violations are taking place on vessels who sell to UK buyers, and are taking place in European ports - then it is clear that this problem is widespread and UK companies need to take action to ensure that their supply chains and profit margins do not include the use of forced labour.”
“Currently crews remain uncertain if and when they’ll be paid, held in limbo until the vessel owner sells vessels or assets to have the cash to pay the crews. J Marr say that they’re ‘committed to commercial integrity’, so we believe it’s their responsibility to put pressure on Pescatlant Ltd to ensure that the fishers’ wages are immediately paid in full, and that the crews are repatriated.”
About the ITF:
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is a democratic, affiliate-led federation of transport workers’ unions recognised as the world’s leading transport authority. We fight passionately to improve working lives; connecting trade unions and workers’ networks from 147 countries to secure rights, equality and justice for their members. We are the voice of the almost 20 million women and men who move the world.
Multiple Pescatlant Ltd vessels have been involved in these cases:
FRIO V IMO 8216722 (Cameroon) Reefer Vessel / Crew abandoned in Las Palmas since February 2021. In May 2021 after an ITF Intervention involving the relevant authorities, the crew was paid and repatriated using assistance from the financial security provider as per MLC (2006) requirements. 
STAR SKN 151 (Cook Islands, reflagged to Cameroon) Fish factory Vessel / Forced Labour. The ITF inspector boarded the STAR SKN-151 in September 2021 and the crew informed him they had not received any wages since they joined the vessel, some of them had not been paid for over 20 months, constituting ‘forced labour’ according to the ILO indicators. A shortage of sufficient food, water and fuel was also documented. All crew were repatriated and paid, but some were only paid until February, as considered “passengers” by Pescatlant, who refused to pay them until the date of their repatriation in October. The ITF are claiming the full payment of wages until the date of repatriation. The vessel was included on the ILO/IMO abandonment database and the flag state authorities were informed of the situation and the vessel was delivered to a scrap yard in India. The ITF has approached J Marr and Pescatlant for the payment of the remaining wages of the crew but so far, have not seen the necessary action.
Aristotle IMO 8038182 (Cameroon). Fish Factory Vessel / Crew abandoned – Repatriated with no wages paid. 6 Electricians of the vessel Aristotle reported they worked for eight months on board for which they have not been paid.
FRIO SEVEN IMO 8215936 (Moldova) Reefer / Death in service – no compensation . The 2nd Officer, who joined the vessel FRIO SEVEN in April 2021 died during mooring operations in August of the same year. The vessel owner was ignoring the parents’ requests. In December 2021 they approached the ITF. After reporting the case to J Marr and Pescatlant, the 4th of January, a payment of 8527,87 USD was made for his earned wages, but not compensation has been provided to the family for the tragic event.
ARCHIMEDES, IMO 7610426 (Angola) – Fish Factory Vessel / Crew abandoned. The crew’s employment contracts expired in November, and they have not received any wages since they joined the vessel. The vessel is currently in Mauritanian waters with a cargo of 1000 tonnes of fish. A crewmember has explained that Internet and satellite communication has been cut so they cannot currently contact the ITF.
About Pescatlant Ltd:
Pescatlant Ltd. are the owners of fish factory and reefer vessels working from Las Palmas in the Canary Islands (Spain) – and this is not the first time this company has been found violating labour rights for workers on their vessels. The ITF have been approached to help workers on vessels owned by this company since 2015., This situation has not been caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and is clearly part of their business model.
Pescatlant has a long history in La Palmas and the ITF have worked with our affiliates in Ukraine to ensure workers were not hired as cadets/trainees in order to avoid paying decent wages.. While this campaign was successful and the ITF have recovered some wages in other cases, it is clear this company feels it can act with impunity.
Pescatlant are registered in Belize but have their headquarters in St Petersburg, Russia. The vessels are however flagged in the Cook Islands, Cameroon, Angola and Moldova. Port State Control has limitations regarding fishing vessels due to the lack of international regulation (e.g. Spain has not ratified ILO C188 and the relevant EU directive only applies to EU flagged vessels or those operating in EU waters).
For more information, contact Chris Williams
ITF Fisheries Section