Last April we posted, Slavery at Sea ? Abuse of Sailors on New Zealand Chartered Fishing Vessels.
Secret papers reveal the government has allowed fishermen from poor countries to be exploited in New Zealand waters. Workers are fishing in rusting boats turned into high seas sweatshops that take large parts of the country’s $1.4 billion-a-year catch. … Files obtained under the Official Information Act show the government has known about the problem for some time.
Now, in a six-month investigation, Bloomberg Businessweek had documented similar abuse on at least ten vessels chartered to fish in New Zealand’s waters.
Fishing as Slaves on the High Seas
For some Indonesian workers, commercial fishing in the seas off New Zealand became a nightmare of abuse aboard foreign-chartered vessels.
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, 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.