Deputy Patrick Costello:
In December last year, Noteworthy produced a series of reports investigating the exploitation and abuse of migrant fisherman in the Irish fishing industry. This morning in the audiovisual room, I hosted Maria Delaney, the journalist who undertook that investigation, along with Migrant Rights Centre Ireland and the International Transport Workers’ Federation to provide a wider context of the exploitation of migrant fishers. There are very clear and quick reforms we can do to try to improve the situation and address the exploitation. While we may be addressing the national referral mechanism for victims of human trafficking, it is important we amend the Workplace Relations Act to improve the jurisdiction of the Workplace Relations Commission to look at the issue of improved enforcement around automatic identification systems and, ultimately, to ratify the Work in Fishing Convention of the International Labour Organization, ILO.
I thank the Deputy for raising the issue. It is clear some, if not many, migrant fishermen are being exploited. That is not acceptable and not something we want to be a feature of our marine economy or the fishing industry in Ireland. I have heard and read about some appalling examples of abuse that are not far off modern day slavery. I know, before his resignation, the former Minister of State, Deputy English, was working on this issue. Responsibility for that now falls to the Minister of State, Deputy Richmond. I will certainly make sure that it is on his agenda for this year.