Maritime charity, the Apostleship of the Sea (AoS), has spoken out on the way seafarers and fishermen are treated when they run into problems with their UK visas. These seafarers are never without the support of ICMA member, AoS Great Britain.
Recently four foreign fishermen, two Filipino and two Indonesian, were stranded in Newcastle, UK , when the fishing boat they were working on hit financial difficulties. The ‘Starward’ was impounded due to the owner’s financial troubles.
The crew had not been paid salaries since March. This meant that they were not able to send money back home to their families in Indonesia and the Philippines, with one crew member relating how his children were going hungry. As the crew were only contracted to work on this particular vessel they were not able to transfer to another. Also, as they were working on transit visas, the UK Border Agency had them arrested in mid-June and they were taken to a detention centre. They were subsequently transferred to a Heathrow detention centre where some of them remain.
Throughout this ordeal the crew have been helped and supported by the Apostleship of the Sea’s Tyne port chaplain, Paul Atkinson. Paul has provided practical and emotional support, working with the AoS national office to try to alleviate the men’s stress and ensure they are fairly treated.
Apostleship of the Sea National Director Martin Foley said,
‘The application of immigration rules to these men has taken no consideration of their circumstances. It is appalling that overseas fishing crews who are stranded in the UK through no fault of their own are treated like criminals and subjected to treatment that has demeaned and humiliated them.”