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Pay gaps between domestic and international fishers:an economic or ethical issue?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Estelle Jones, Dr Katherine Botterill, Dr Alexander Caveen, Professor Tim Gray



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Through the global market for maritime labour, multi-national crews now work on fishing vessels which were once serviced by domestic crews only. The remuneration and working conditions for non-domestic crews are causing concern, with allegations of unequal and poor pay levelled at the industry. This paper presents evidence from Scotland, a nation where a significant proportion of crews on fishing vessels originate from outside of the UK, a large number of whom come from outside the European Economic Area. Their level of remuneration is significantly lower than their Scottish counterparts, even when employed on the same boats to carry out the same work. The question arises whether the remuneration and inferred pay differences are justifiable economic consequences of local and global labour markets, or whether they constitute a failure of maritime governing institutions to prevent unjust pay discrimination. After exploring the economic and ethical arguments for keeping or removing remuneration differentials, the paper concludes that ‘equal share’ is the most just distributional criterion for international fishers’ remuneration. Although we recognise that other distributive justice principles will continue to be defended on economic grounds, the paper argues that policy makers need to find ways of redressing the power imbalances between employers and employees that contribute to unequal pay.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jones E, Botterill K, Chikwama C, Caveen A, Gray T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Maritime Studies

Year: 2020

Volume: 19

Pages: 15-27

Online publication date: 05/02/2019

Acceptance date: 16/01/2019

Date deposited: 17/01/2019

ISSN (electronic): 2212-9790

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s40152-019-00133-6


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