On April 3, 2014 workers unloaded frozen fish from a Thai boat in Indonesia. Tens of thousands of migrant workers are trafficked each year through Thailand.

On April 3, 2014 workers unloaded frozen fish from a Thai boat in Indonesia. Tens of thousands of migrant workers are trafficked each year through Thailand.
Photo Credit: Dita Alangkara/AP Photo

Avoid fish caught by abused workers: Greenpeace


Canadians need to know about atrocious conditions faced by fisheries workers half a world away because consumer pressure would force seafood companies and governments to stop forced labour, abuse, confinement and human trafficking, says Greenpeace. Fish caught in these conditions may end up on their pets’ plates or even their own.

Human traffickers respond to worker shortage

Sea Slaves is the title of an in-depth report by the New York Times which documents abusive conditions in South East Asia’s fishing industry. The United Nations estimates that the Thai fishing industry is short 50,000 workers, and human traffickers have jumped in to fill the void.

“Typically what happens is men are brought in from Cambodia and Burma, also known as Myanmar,” says Shannon Service who is preparing a documentary on the subject. “They’re brought in by human traffickers who promise them great jobs, great pay, (and say) ‘you can leave whenever you like,’ whatever it takes to get them across the border.


Workers trapped at sea for months, years

“Once they do cross, they’re incredibly vulnerable. They don’t have a passport, they don’t have money, they don’t speak the language, they are often under armed guard. They’ll be locked in a warehouse and then sold to a captain for a few hundred dollars each. Once they’re out on the sea there is nowhere to go, so they’re trapped.”

Overfishing has made fish scarce close to shore, so boats are going further, staying out longer and transferring catches on the high seas.  Men are often held on board boats which don’t go ashore for months or years.

In this photo from Nov. 2014, a security guard talks to detainees in a cell at a fishing company in Benjina, Indonesia.
In this photo from Nov. 2014, a security guard talks to detainees in a cell at a fishing company in Benjina, Indonesia. © Dita Alangkara/AP Photo/file

Some drugged to work long hours

“(The incidence is) a little bit tough to gauge. The average seems to be two to three years before a lot of the men escape. And that’s two or three years without ever seeing land,” says Service. “I did talk to one guy in Borneo who was sold on board when he was 10 years old and he didn’t see land again for 10 years.”

Canadians can act, says journalist

Workers may be beaten, fed fish unfit for animal feed, and there are reports some are forced to take amphetamines so they can work longer hours. Service says Canadians can do something about this.

“We really are the people who are either consuming it (the fish) ourselves or our pets are consuming it. So we’re the ones who can actually put the pressure, which ultimately is the most important pressure, on the Thai industry to clean up its act,” she says.

Some men disappear, says journalist

The Thai government needs to take control of its ports and track the ships that come and go, says Service. “Our documentary is actually called The Ghost Fleet because at the moment the boats are not tracked. A boat might come into port, load up with slave crew, leave with ten men, come back with 8 and nobody knows that two men disappeared. It might come back with 8 different men…So there’s a lot of tracking that needs to happen.

Thai efforts to stop abuse called ‘limp’

“The other side of it is enforcement. Once a captain or an owner is busted for this, they need to be prosecuted fully. Thailand is saying that they’re going to do that, but so far, the efforts that I’m aware of are limp.”

Categories: International, Society

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.