Thursday, September 30, 2010


Shocking evidence of conditions akin to slavery on trawlers that provide fish for European dinner tables has been found in an investigation off the coast of west Africa. Forced labour and human rights abuses involving African crews have been uncovered on trawlers fishing illegally for the European market by investigators for an environmental campaign group. The Environmental Justice Foundation found conditions on board including incarceration, violence, withholding of pay, confiscation of documents, confinement on board for months or even years, and lack of clean water.

The ships are crewed by untrained, illiterate workers housed in dismally unsafe and unhygienic living conditions. Crews were working and sleeping show quarters with ceilings less than a metre high where the men cannot stand up. Temperatures in the fish holds on some vessels where men were being required to sort, process and pack fish for lucrative European and Asian markets were 40 to 45 degrees, with no ventilation, On some vessels the crews of up to 200 had little access to clean drinking water.

The trawlers have mostly been identified engaging in pirate fishing off west Africa. According to a recent estimate illegal fishing accounts for between 13% and 31% of total catches worldwide each year.

No comments: