23 May 2018

A new approach is needed to combat maritime threats, says One Earth Future in its latest report.

  • Piracy events off the Horn of Africa doubled last year compared to the year before indicating that Somali criminal networks are still capable of sophisticated attacks.
  • Overall incidents in the Latin America and Caribbean region increased by 160%, indicating the opportunistic nature of actors in the region.
  • Piracy continues to pose a threat in the Gulf of Guinea despite a broad array of countermeasures implemented by coastal states and maritime security companies.
  • Kidnap-for-ransom incidents in Asia decreased by 80%, in large part due to the effective cooperation by regional law enforcement actors.

The number of piracy incidents doubled off the coast of East Africa in 2017 compared to 2016, according to the annual State of Piracy report released today by One Earth Future (OEF)’s Oceans Beyond Piracy programme. The report analyses the human and economic impacts of maritime piracy and robbery at sea in the Western Indian Ocean Region, the Gulf of Guinea, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

'Pirate activity in 2017 clearly demonstrates that pirate groups retain their ability to organise and implement attacks against ships transiting the region,' says Maisie Pigeon, the report’s lead author.

Incidents in this maritime space have posed an additional threat to shipping transiting the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.

2017 State of Piracy Report East Africa extract

'There are now a wide range of threats to shipping near the Horn of Africa that have been complicated by the conflict and instability in Yemen,' says Phil Belcher, Marine Director of INTERTANKO. 'We are advising our members to consider a more comprehensive security assessment to take into account other threats beyond traditional piracy emanating from the regional conflict in Yemen.'

Maritime crime in Latin America and the Caribbean is also on the rise.

'We have observed a significant increase in violent incidents and anchorage crime, particularly in the anchorages of Venezuela and the recent violent incidents off Suriname in the first part of this year,' says Pigeon.

2017 State of Piracy Report Latin America and the Caribbean extract

Piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea continue at persistently high levels. In 2017, 1,726 seafarers were impacted in a total of 97 incidents, despite the increased efforts of regional states and contracted maritime security providers. The report shows a US$13.2 million increase on spending by regional states on law enforcement and naval patrols, and that there has been a continued proliferation of contracted maritime security schemes. A South Korean vessel Munmu the Great was re-deployed to the Gulf of Guinea in response to the kidnapping of 3 South Korean fishermen in March.

'Kidnap-for-ransom continues to plague the region, which is a trend that has unfortunately continued from 2016,' says Pigeon. The report found that 100 crewmembers were taken hostage in 2016.

2017 State of Piracy Report West Africa extract

The piracy situation in Asia improved considerably in 2017, with overall incidents down by over 20% from 2016. Most encouraging was that kidnap-for-ransom attacks decreased from 22 in 2016 to just 4 in 2017. 'We believe that much of the credit for this progress is due to the trilateral patrols between the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia,' says Gregory Clough, Ocean Beyond Piracy’s acting director.

Having assessed the state of global piracy and armed robbery dating back to 2011, OEF has concluded that piracy is just one piece of a number of issues affecting maritime security. Criminal gangs operating at sea have been observed moving between different crimes and can sustain themselves without necessarily resorting to piracy activity. OEF has observed growing consensus that piracy and other crimes cannot be comprehensively addressed unless the maritime community begins to address the broader issues that create insecurity at sea.

'Piracy is just one issue in a complex web affecting maritime security,' says Larry Sampler, OEF’s president. 'Where there is good governance seas are safer, coastal communities are healthier, and the blue economies grow stronger. OEF is committed to promoting global maritime security.'

The Executive Summary of the 2017 State of Piracy Report can be downloaded below.

22 May 2018

NIVA Education is running a course aimed at health care professionals and related staff working within shipping companies, P&I clubs, in the medical selection of seafarers, as providers of remote medical assistance services and in port health clinics.

Medical emergencies aboard ships at sea pose a continuing risk to the life and health of seafarers. They also have adverse financial and operational consequences for ship operators.

The Nordic Institute for Advanced Training in Occupational Health (NIVA) is offering a course entitled 'Managing Medical Emergencies at Sea: Risks and Responses', which will consider how such risks can be prevented and mitigated, both by action in advance of an incident and by effective management of emergencies when they arise.

Participants will gain experience and understanding of:

  • The identification and assessment of the risks of medical emergencies at sea. The differing perspectives of seafarers, trainers, health professionals, shipping managers and regulatory authorities will be reviewed.
  • The role of operational planning in emergency preparedness.
  • The impact of incidents on different stakeholders within the shipping industry.
  • The frequency and severity of medical emergencies at sea.
  • The role of factors including international conventions and national regulations, training, the ship’s medical guide, medical equipment on board and support from remote medical assistance services, in managing both the risk and their consequences.
  • The risks and benefits of medical evacuation, port health care and repatriation.

The course will take place on 30 October – 1 November 2018 at the Hotel Marienlyst, Helsingør (Elsinore), Denmark.

For more information and to register, please click here.

Although ISWAN’s main office is based in South London, we operate beyond the UK to help seafarers around the world. We have representatives working in the Philippines, India and Nigeria under our Regional Programme.

When seven Bangladeshi seafarers were forcefully removed from their vessel and abandoned without pay, our Regional Representative in Nigeria was there to assist and support them.

Despite being on six-month contracts, the seafarers had been working on the Nigerian tanker for over a year. Conditions on board were poor, but when the crew members raised the welfare issues with the ship owner, the owner threatened to report them to the Navy and the crew became very frightened.

According to the captain, the seafarers were tortured, forcefully removed from the vessel and taken without an official handover to a hotel, where they were forced to sign documents under duress and subsequently abandoned.

Two of the seafarers were critically ill and had no access to medical treatment, and all were owed a year’s salary. The seafarers were left at the hotel depressed, traumatised and frustrated, and they felt helpless in their situation.

The seafarers’ case was referred to ISWAN’s Regional Representative in Nigeria, Afusat Eke. Afusat made weekly visits to the seafarers to check on their wellbeing and provided them with emotional support and counselling. While the seafarers were waiting to be paid their salaries and repatriated, the captain’s mother died. This devastating news left the captain frequently in tears and feeling suicidal, but Afusat comforted and reassured him to help him remain calm in this stressful situation.

Afusat also forwarded the case to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), who forced the seafarer’s employer to take action. The seafarers were repatriated to Bangladesh having been paid part of their salary, with the assurance that the balance would be paid in instalments.

Upon returning to Bangladesh, one of the seafarers contacted Afusat to show his appreciation for her efforts: ‘Thanks you Madam for your help and thanks to all those who assisted in [our repatriation] back to Bangladesh’.

We rely on charitable grants and donations for our work with seafarers. Help us support seafarers in need worldwide by donating at Virgin Money Giving or JustGiving.

18 May 2018

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Federal Transport Authority (FTA) have signed a ground-breaking Memorandum of Understanding to work together to protect the rights of all seafarers operating in UAE waters.

On signing the memorandum at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in London, ITF general secretary Stephen Cotton said: 'We at the ITF are committed to ensuring seafarers are protected all around the world. This is a significant opportunity to work with our partners in the UAE to bring seafarers and workers’ safety to forefront of the conversation.

'This agreement is just the beginning and will hopefully pave the way for similar agreements in other territories. We are keen to work for greater cooperation, in all areas of transportation.'

Dr. Abdullah Belheif Al Nuaimi, minister of infrastructure development and chairman of the FTA board of directors, spoke at the event: 'This agreement allows us to consult, cooperate and coordinate jointly and continuously to find legal solutions regarding the abandonment of seafarers aboard ships, by ship owners and operators, and to work together to combat and prevent the occurrence of this phenomenon in the future.'

This is the first agreement of its kind between a government authority and the ITF. The two parties are committed to working closely together and sharing information to provide comprehensive and timely support to in need vessels and seafarers within UAE waters.

ISWAN warmly welcomes this agreement and hopes that it will lead to a dramatic decrease in the number of abandoned seafarers in the UAE. ISWAN is committed to working with both the ITF and the FTA in seeking solutions to this problem.

16 May 2018

On 15 May 2018, the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) and the Taipei Representative Office in the EU and Belgium signed a Memorandum of Understanding, under which Taiwan will donate another USD 30,000 to the Piracy Survivor Family Fund (PSFF), administered by ISWAN, on behalf of the UN Contact Group for Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS). The Memorandum was signed by Representative Harry Tseng at the European Parliament in Brussels and Roger Harris, Executive Director of ISWAN.

Taiwan granted USD 30,000 to PSFF in 2015 and this is the second time that they have given a donation. Roger Harris of ISWAN said: ‘ISWAN deeply appreciates this generous donation from the Government of Taiwan. We are delighted to receive another large grant from Taiwan to the Piracy Survivor Family Fund. The Fund supports seafarers and their families who have been the innocent victims of Somali piracy and who have received no or only very limited support since their attack.’

The PSFF was established by the CGPCS under the EU Presidency in 2014 to provide financial assistance to seafarers affected by Somali piracy and to their families. It fulfils a crucial role in the rehabilitation of piracy victims. Since 2006, it is estimated that more than 4,000 seafarers have been held hostage by Somali pirates and that as many as 80,000 have been subjected to an attack. Although ships are not being hijacked off the coast of Somalia, the threat of piracy still remains. The donation to the Fund will enable it to respond quickly should there be a resurgence of piracy off the coast of Somalia.

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Signing ceremony of MOU between ISWAN and Government of Taiwan at the European Parliament

In partnership with the Shipowners’ Club, ISWAN has produced a 13-minute audio relaxation exercise to help seafarers cope with stress at sea. The exercise – Managing stress with relaxation techniques - is accessible online and is also available for download.

The exercise is the latest addition to ISWAN's Good Mental Health Guides for Seafarers.

We talk about feeling stressed when the pressures or demands of life get on top of us. We all feel stressed at times. Stress is not only normal but essential for survival and can be beneficial to us.
Although stress has a useful function, the effects of stress can be unpleasant or uncomfortable. If the stress is prolonged or repeated, many of the changes in our body can have longer term effects on our physical health and our wellbeing. For all these reasons, it is important to recognise stress and take measures to manage it.

Relaxation and Controlled Breathing are both ways to relax your body. These work by calming your body and mind and reversing the physiological changes which happen in our bodies at times of stress.

Progressive Muscular Relaxation is the easiest method for learning how to relax your body. The idea of the exercise is to learn the difference between how your muscles feel when they are tense and how they feel when they are relaxed. It is physically impossible to be stressed and relaxed at the same time. Practising relaxation techniques helps us to build up some resilience to stress and makes it easier to use the techniques when we need them.

Controlled Breathing Technique:  All the physical effects of stress begin with the breath.
If we control our breathing (that is we breathe slowly and deeply from the bottom of our lungs), the heart slows down and the body returns to its resting state. You can use controlled breathing any time you notice your breathing is a little shallow or fast or whenever you notice sensations of stress, anxiety, fear or even anger. Controlled breathing can help you take a moment out before reacting and is excellent to use quickly just before you enter into a difficult situation.

Our new audio relaxation exercise combines muscle relaxation with the controlled breathing technique. Practising them together helps your mind to associate relaxation with controlled breathing. This means that when you need to relax quickly and easily you can take a slow deep breath in, from the bottom of your lungs, remind yourself to relax and release the tension from your muscles. Like any new skill, relaxation does take time to learn.
Practise every day at least once a day for 10 days to 2 weeks to get the most from the technique.

Mindful breathing: In mindful breathing, we notice our breath without trying to change it; in the controlled breathing technique, we deliberately alter our breathing. More information about mindful breathing can be found in our guide, Steps to Positive Mental Health.

A one page guide on Managing Stress at Sea is available to download here.

Further to a request from the National Seafarers Welfare Board of Nigeria (a voluntary organisation) and following a substantial amount of preparatory work, Peter Tomlin of the UK Merchant Navy Welfare Board representing the IPWP recently visited and helped set up new Port Welfare Committees (PWCs) in 3 major Nigerian ports. The ports of Apapa and Tin Can Island are located near Lagos. The Port of Onne, Port Harcourt, is situated some 450km from Lagos and is classified as an ‘essential travel only’ region. Nigeria has ratified ILO MLC, 2006.

All 3 major ports are located within a piracy region that remains active. Indeed, a piracy incident occurred off the coast during the visit. All vessels take appropriate precautions such as barbed wire around their guard rails etc. Each one of the ports is extremely busy and conditions within the port are generally better than those immediately outside the port boundaries, which no doubt influences seafarers plans to proceed ashore. Only Apapa port has any dedicated shore based seafarers’ welfare facilities in the form of an old, well-used ‘portacabin’ style ‘drop in’ centre located next to the Port Offices. This small ITF Seafarers Trust funded centre has been repaired after severe storm damage, however, it remains in very poor condition, in need of further repairs and is probably beyond economic repair. The Apostleship of the Sea and Mission to Seafarers Port Chaplains, and a Seafarers UK funded social worker in combination with trained volunteers provide welfare services. An ITFST funded 8 seater minibus is fully utilised to provide a ship welfare visiting programme and is also used to take seafarers ashore for shopping. Tin Can Island does not have any welfare facilities but it is understood there are plans in place for an ITFST Communications Pod to be situated within the port. The Port of Onne also has no dedicated welfare facilities. Notwithstanding, like Tin Can Island and Apapa, Onne does have strong, supportive port management and now possesses a PWC, under the national welfare board, that is capable of reviewing, supporting and overseeing the maintenance of future seafarers’ welfare improvements.

Nigeria is greatly dependant on its ports and is one of the few countries that has actually formed a national seafarers’ welfare board i.a.w. MLC, 2006 with proactive government support. Each new PWC has been formed with attendance from Government, Shipowners, Unions, Port Owners/Authorities and Voluntary Organisations. The port of Apapa benefits from the support of proactive Mission to Seafarers & Apostleship of the Sea Port Chaplains and a Seafarers UK funded social worker who are doing an excellent job of providing welfare support to seafarers and their families. Welfare support extends to visiting seafarers on ships, those affected by piracy, hospitalised and in prison.

It is recommended that the newly formed PWCs review the seafarers’ welfare facilities in their ports at the earliest opportunity. Grants are probably required to financially support improvements to seafarers’ welfare in any or all of the aforementioned ports. There are further plans to establish new PWCs in the ports of Warri and Calabar.

26 April 2018

This month, the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network’s (ISWAN) Regional Director in South Asia, Chirag Bahri, delivered ISWAN’s Pre-Departure Piracy Awareness Training during a visit to Chennai.

Chirag was invited by the Indian Maritime University to deliver the training to 17 participants from Africa, who were on an Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) course under the Ministry of External Affairs exchange programme. He introduced Best Management Practices and trained participants on preparing vessels and crew prior to sailing in high risk areas, coping in captivity and what precautions should be taken during the release process. The day-long course was a success and participants requested that Chirag explored the possibility of delivering the training in maritime institutes in their own countries.

While in Chennai, Chirag also presented to seafarers at MASSA Maritime Academy and the Hindustan Institute of Maritime Training (HIMT) on the importance of being prepared for a crisis. He spoke about ISWAN’s current campaign encouraging Indian seafarers to seek employment through registered crewing agencies. He also strongly advised the seafarers not to be complacent while transiting through piracy-infested waters.

Chirag also met with port officials and the Mercantile Marine Department (MMD) Principal Officer in Chennai, who he briefed on ISWAN’s work around encouraging ports to establish Port Welfare Committees (see portwelfare.org for more information). The senior port officials pledged their support to the programme.

In addition, Chirag represented ISWAN at a National Maritime Day celebration event on 5th April at the Seafarers’ Club in Chennai. He briefed guests, including the senior maritime fraternity, on ISWAN’s work and appealed for support of its campaign against unregistered crewing agencies.

ISWAN would like to thank its partners and the maritime institutes in Chennai for their kind support.

Itec training 2

24 April 2018

Last night, the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) revealed the 2018 winners of its prestigious International Seafarers’ Welfare Awards at a high-profile ceremony in Geneva.

The awards honour those who have offered exceptional levels of welfare services and facilities to seafarers. The International Labour Organization (ILO) hosted the ceremony, which took place after the third meeting of the Special Tripartite Committee of the MLC, 2006.

The evening began with a video message from the ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder. Greg Vines, ILO Deputy Director-General for Management & Reform who was presenting the awards, then addressed the guests with a short speech. This was followed by speeches from the event’s main funder and Gold Sponsor, respectively – Tomas Abrahamsson, Acting Head of the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, and Drew Brandy, Senior Vice President of Market Strategy at Inmarsat.

The chair for the evening, MF Shipping Group’s Chief Executive Officer and ISWAN Trustee Karin Orsel, announced the first award of the night. The ISWAN Posthumous Award for Outstanding Services to Seafarers’ Welfare was awarded to Joseph Chacko and Leena Joseph, who tragically passed away in February. Pastor Joseph Chacko was the Regional Superintendent at Sailors’ Society and a trailblazer in seafarers’ welfare, and Leena was a constant supporter of his work. Their daughter, Neha Joseph, accepted the award, which paid tribute to the exceptional difference that Joseph and Leena made to the lives of seafarers.

The Flying Angel Club Fremantle was presented with a certificate of commendation for their continued outstanding services to seafarers’ welfare. Since winning the Seafarer Centre of the Year award in 2014, the centre has increased the transport offered to seafarers and refurbished their accommodation facilities.

Chair Karin Orsel then announced the following winners, chosen by four judging panels formed of experts from across the maritime industry:

Shipping Company of the Year: WALLEM
Award sponsored by Garrets International

Wallem previously won the Shipping Company of the Year award in 2014 for its strong support of seafarers’ families as well as excellent on-board communications provision. Since its previous win, Wallem has implemented a Wellness at Sea Programme for all seafarers and continued to improve on-board communications among other new initiatives aimed at benefitting seafarers.

Port of the Year: PORT OF ROTTERDAM
Award sponsored by MF Shipping Group

The Port of Rotterdam, together with various other stakeholders, has greatly improved welfare services for seafarers in the area and is working on a number of other future initiatives to continue to provide for visiting seafarers.

Seafarer Centre of the Year: MISSION TO SEAFARERS BRISBANE
Award sponsored by Wrist Ship Supply

The Mission to Seafarers Brisbane welcomes an estimated 12,000 seafarers each year and maximises seafarers’ time ashore with its free on-demand bus service. In addition to its wider stakeholder cooperation, the MTS Brisbane works with students at Queensland University of Technology to help them meet the constantly evolving media needs of seafarers.

The Dr Dierk Lindemann Welfare Personality of the Year (Organisation): NAUTILUS WELFARE FUND
Award sponsored by the International Chamber of Shipping

The Nautilus Welfare Fund provides accommodation and care services for some 170 mariners and their dependants. It also provides a one-off grants service to needy mariners across the UK who need essential items or household repairs. This service supports over 300 mariners and generates £800,000/annum in benefits and grants.

The Dr Dierk Lindemann Welfare Personality of the Year (Individual): JASPER DEL ROSARIO
Award sponsored by the International Chamber of Shipping

Jasper Del Rosario is a highly experienced and well-trained Sailors’ Society chaplain who is fully committed to supporting seafarers any time of the day or night. He visits seafarers on ships, in hospital, in prison and at home and provides holistic coaching in the Philippines as a Wellness at Sea trainer. He provided exceptional support to seafarers and their families in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

ISWAN’s Executive Director, Roger Harris, said after the ceremony: ‘Tonight’s awards celebrate the heroes of seafarers’ welfare provision. It is fantastic to see the exceptional standards of services and facilities being offered to seafarers around the world every time we hold the International Seafarers’ Welfare Awards, and the achievements of this year’s winners set an excellent example to others. We would like to congratulate all of tonight’s winners and thank them wholeheartedly for everything they are doing for seafarers.’

Photos of the awards ceremony and the drinks reception afterwards can be viewed here.

The 2018 awards are made possible by a generous grant from the ITF Seafarers' Trust and the support of Inmarsat (Gold sponsor), the International Chamber of Shipping (Dr Dierk Lindemann Welfare Personality of the Year Award), Garrets International (Shipping Company of the Year Award), Wrist Ship Supply (Seafarers’ Centre of the Year Award) and MF Shipping Group (Port of the Year Award). The awards are also supported by the International Labour Organization, the International Maritime Organization, the International Christian Maritime Association and the International Transport Workers Federation.

For more information, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.seafarerswelfareawards.org.

RideLondon 0EK25700 Riders cross the finish line on The Mall 2016

Photo: Eddie Keogh/Silverhub for Prudential RideLondon

We have charity places in this year's Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 on Sunday 29th July and we need you!

The 100-mile route was made famous by the world’s best cyclists at the London 2012 Olympics – starting in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, it offers a traffic-free ride along closed roads in the capital and through stunning countryside in Surrey, with a spectacular finish on The Mall in central London.

The event is suitable for a range of cycling abilities and 25,000 amateur cyclists are expected to take part this year.

Are you up for the challenge? Can you raise £575 in sponsorship for us? The money you raise will support our work for the welfare of seafarers worldwide.

To claim your place or find out more, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

You have until 17:00 on Friday 25th May to register. We hope to see you there!

For more information about the event, visit the Prudential RideLondon website.