How prevalent is the issue of ‘cowboy’ recruitment agencies and what can be done to mitigate their illegal and, at times, dangerous activities? Should the onus be on the market to self-regulate, or does there need to be some form of industry association to dissuade unscrupulous recruiters and convince crewmembers not to engage with them?

“First things first, it is important to separate legal recruiting businesses from illegal recruitment ‘agencies’,” starts Zoe Benson, director at Global Crew Services, a reputable one-woman recruitment agency based in Palma de Mallorca. “There are very clear guidelines that dictate how recruitment agencies worldwide, and in our industry, should operate. We are subject to data-protection legislation, ISO standards, MLC and much more.”

Data protection, or the lack thereof, forms the bedrock for one of the most damning arguments against malpractice in the recruitment field. The argument is an incredibly simple one. A number of the ‘recruitment agents’ that are in business to make a quick deal have little or no means of protecting crew or vessel data. In the wrong hands, this information could be harmful in a variety of ways.

“In all honesty, I don’t think that an association would benefit the superyacht industry,” says Mark Charman, CEO of Faststream. “There are various bodies that determine how recruitment agencies should be run, as well as legislation and EU directives…A superyachting association would be incredibly difficult to enforce.”

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