Growing number of seafarers reporting abuse, bullying, harassment and discrimination


Data from ISWAN’s helplines show that number of seafarers reporting abuse, bullying, harassment or discrimination increased by almost 50% in Q1 2023 compared to the previous quarter.

The International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) has released the first in a series of quarterly infographics sharing data from its helpline services, providing the maritime sector with intelligence on global seafarer issues with the aim to drive positive change.

In its infographic, ISWAN highlights increasing reports of abuse, bullying, harassment and discrimination from seafarers as a key trend across its helpline services. Cases involving these issues increased by 45% from Q4 2022 to Q1 2023 across all ISWAN helplines, which offer practical, emotional and wellbeing support to seafarers of any nationality. The majority of these cases related to abusive or bullying behaviour by senior officers, and 19% involved sexual abuse or sexual harassment.

On ISWAN’s Yacht Crew Help helpline, cases involving abuse, bullying, harassment and discrimination increased by 125% quarter-on-quarter, highlighting a key problem area for the superyacht industry to tackle.

Simon Grainge, ISWAN’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “ISWAN’s helplines SeafarerHelp and Yacht Crew Help are often the first port of call for any seafarer seeking support. Hundreds of seafarers contact our helplines every month and tell us about the problems they are facing, and we want to share the key trends and issues identified with the maritime sector to influence change.

“This data is also informing our own work at ISWAN. For example, we are working with industry partners to produce a personal safety resource for those seeking work on board yachts, which will be released soon, in response to an increase in calls to Yacht Crew Help from often green crew who had experienced abuse (often sexual) whilst working on board.

“ISWAN is also a member of the Center for Ocean Policy and Economics (COPE°) Working Group for Psychological Safety, Bullying and Sexual Assault and Harassment in the Maritime Sector, and we are involved in a growing network of like-minded individuals and organisations who are coming together to find and develop preventative solutions to this growing crisis.”