Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New Zealand's Slaves

In the September / October issue of Professional Skipper magazine a stark warning was issued about the practices of Foriegn Charter Vessels fishing in NZ territorial waters.

"This has been followed by a group of 32 Indonesian fishermen who quit their boat, the FV Oyang 75 in Lyttelton Harbour. They allegedly received inhumane treatment and are now faced with deportation.
The men left the ship, a Korean-licensed FCV chartered by the Christchurch company Southern Storm Fishing, claiming serous physical, sexual and psychological abuse from Korean officers and alleging the company had not paid them fully for their five months on board.
Southern Storm Fishing has publicly stated it has done nothing wrong and the crew had no reason to leave the boat. The mounting evidence would suggest otherwise."
Oyang 75

I would have thought the examples quoted in that article in conjunction with evidence gathered by The University of Auckland Business School might have improved things

"Their research revealed these foreign charter crews essentially operate in an institutional void, a No Man’s Land. One of the findings, just released, clearly demonstrates the evidence all points towards these people being trafficked persons by unscrupulous manning agents in what is nothing short of slave labour, and this has been going on for decades within the New Zealand seafood industry. Crew told them about being forced to sign false time sheets, of not being paid, brutal beatings, inhumane punishments (e.g. made to stand on deck for hours, without food or water in extreme weather conditions), relentless verbal abuse, degrading sexual assaults, rationing and locking up of food, denial of medical treatment, and how accident injuries were covered up. Others told them how they were often fed expired fish bait, drank rustic water, and bathed in salt water sometimes only once a week.
Now watch out for some New Zealand deepwater fishing industry representatives duck for cover. My guess is before the government’s ministerial enquiry is concluded, there will be some big, red faces about and heads must roll.'

It would seem not the Stuff website today reported on yet another case of this today  although  a search of stuff failed to turn it up tonight but it was the same as all the other reported stories on the behavior of the slavers that we allow to fish our waters but with one critical difference it linked to a Bloomberg Businessweek story about Yusril a slave, living the life of a slave for the benefit of NZ Inc.

" On March 25, 2011, an Indonesian fisherman named Yusril became a slave. Yusril (which is not his real name, to protect his identity) is 28, with brooding looks and a swagger that compensates for his slight frame. That afternoon he went to the East Jakarta offices of PT Indah Megah Sari (IMS), an agency that hires crews to work on foreign fishing vessels. He was offered a job on the Melilla 203, a South Korea-flagged ship that trawled in the waters off New Zealand. “Hurry up,” said the agent, holding a pen over a thick stack of contracts in the windowless conference room with water-stained walls. Waving at a pile of green Indonesian passports of other prospective fisherman, he added: “You really can’t waste time reading this. There are a lot of others waiting and the plane leaves tomorrow.”

Interesting to note the ministerial enquiry reports Friday. Anyway a bit more about NZ's slaves.

" The terms of the first contract, the “real” one, would later haunt him. In it, IMS spelled out terms with no rights. In addition to the agent’s commission, Yusril would surrender 30 percent of his salary, which IMS would hold unless the work was completed. He would be paid nothing for the first three months, and if the job was not completed to the fishing company’s satisfaction, Yusril would be sent home and charged over $1000 for the airfare. “Satisfactory” completion was left vague. The contract only stated that Yusril would have to work whatever hours the boat operators demanded.
The last line of the contract, in bold, warned that Yusril’s family would owe nearly $3,500 if he were to run away from the ship. The amount was greater than his net worth, and he had earlier submitted title to his land as collateral for that bond. Additionally, he had provided IMS with names and addresses of his family members. He was locked in.
What followed, according to Yusril and several shipmates who corroborated his story, was an eight-month ordeal aboard theMelilla 203, during which Indonesian fisherman were subjected to physical and sexual abuse at the hands of the ship’s operators. Their overlords told them not to complain or fight back, or they would be sent home, where the agents would take their due. Finally, Yusril and 23 others walked off in protest when the trawler docked in Lyttleton, New Zealand. The men have seen little if any of the money they say is owed them for their work. Such coerced labor is modern-day slavery, as the United Nations defines the crime.
The owners of the Melilla ships did not respond to requests for comment.
The experiences of the fishermen on the Melilla 203 were not unique. In a six-month investigation spanning three continents, Bloomberg Businessweek found cases of debt bondage on the Melilla 203 and at least nine other ships that have operated in New Zealand’s waters. As recently as November 2011, fish from the Melilla 203 and other suspect vessels was bought and processed by United Fisheries, New Zealand’s eighth-largest seafood company,...  ( cont. below )

Convinced yet ? We are to blame, this is our jurisdiction we NZ Inc. benefit from the sale of these fish. read the full article it will shock you.

Oyang 77 detained crew wages permit removed
Oyang 75 Gone permit revoked
Millina 201 & 203 Detained Probably wages
Oyang 70 Sunk
Insung 1 Sunk
Don Wang Sunk

I would like to think the detentions and permit removals were in reaction to our disgust at the behaviour of the FCV but this has been going on for years. Why do I suspect it has more to do with this.

"...which has sold the same species in the same period to distributors operating in the United States. (The U.S. imports 86 percent of its seafood.) Those distributors have sold those species to major U.S. companies. Those companies — which include some of the country’s biggest retailers and restaurants — have sold the seafood to American consumers."

..." U.S. retailers such as Safeway (SWY), America’s second largest grocery store chain, and Wal-Mart Stores (WMT). When alerted by Bloomberg Businessweek,  spokespeople for both retailers pledged swift investigations. “As with all of our suppliers, we have a process underway to obtain documentation that [High Liner is] complying with the laws regarding human trafficking and slavery, and that [they are] reviewing their supply chain to insure compliance,” said Brian Dowling, Safeway’s vice president of public affairs, on Feb. 17. “We have not yet received certification from High Liner. However, we are following up with them immediately and asking that they provide us with certification.”

Friday  will be interesting we might just have a chance to rescue our off shore fishing industry from an inevitable market boycot, if we will not take responsibility and police it properly I hope our markets collapse and the fish are left in the sea. Any industry that requires a slave workforce is unsustainable by definition.

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