Government agencies have agreed on a range of employment protections for sea fishing personnel from outside the European Economic Area allegedly subjected to labour exploitation.

The International Transport Workers Federation had taken legal action challenging the Atypical Work Permit Scheme which was set up to manage immigration and employment protection of non-European migrant fishers, amid allegations of labour trafficking and human rights abuses of such workers at sea.

It brought the case having identified a number of individuals who had arrived in Ireland on foot of permits granted under the Scheme - but who were subsequently allegedly subjected to human trafficking and other forms of labour exploitation on Irish fishing vessels.

The ITF had sought an immediate moratorium on granting or renewing work permits under the Scheme for non-EU fishermen, pending a review of conditions attaching it.

However, following the mediated settlement on a suite of protections for such workers, the High Court case was struck out today.

ITF UK and Ireland Coordinator Ken Fleming welcomed today's mediated settlement aimed at improving the Atypical Work Permit Scheme,  but warned that the key to the mediated agreement would be strict enforcement to ensure workers' employment and human rights were vindicated.

Under the improved scheme, non-EEA fishers will not be given permission to work in Ireland without a contract with a specific employer.

But, once here, they will be free to move job without the consent of the sponsoring employer.

The employer may not recoup the costs of securing a work permit from the fisher's salary.

They will be entitled to receive their letter of approval, their contract of employment and clear information on their entitlements to pay, working hours and rest periods in both their native language and English.

They must also be given information on how to lodge a complaint where their rights are violated.

The Government has also pledged to transpose an EU Directive governing maximum hours of work, minimum hours of rest and staffing requirements aboard commercial fishing vessels by 15 November.

The mediated settlement provides for the Workplace Relations Commission, the Marine Survey Office and the Department of Justice and Equality to liaise with each other on enforcing the law on hours of work and rest on board fishing vessels.

In addition, the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine will chair an Oversight Committee to monitor the scheme and ensure that it is operating as intended.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission welcomed the settlement.

IHREC Chief Commissioner Emily Logan expressed that hope that if properly implemented, the agreement would contribute to the fight against human trafficking and severe labour exploitation on Irish fishing vessels, and to ensuring that the rights of non-EEA fishermen were vindicated.

The Government Departments involved in the Scheme are the Department of Justice and Equality; Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport; Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; and the Workplace Relations Commission.