Friday, October 01, 2010

Modern-day slavery found on fishing boats near West Africa

An investigation into illegal fishing off the coast of West Africa has instead turned up modern-day slavery. Fishing boats that provide fish for Europe have shocking working conditions according to the Environmental Justice Foundation. The EJF says that the fish are treated better than the workers who catch them.

From the Guardian, writer Felicity Lawrence has the scoop on the EJF discovery. Click to this page to find video footage of the fishing boats.

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 EJF found hi-tech vessels operating without appropriate licences in fishing exclusion zones off the coast of Sierra Leone and Guinea over the last four years. The ships involved all carried EU numbers, indicating that they were licensed to import to Europe having theoretically passed strict hygiene standards.

"We didn't set out to look at human rights but rather to tackle the illegal fishing that's decimating fish stocks, but having been on board we have seen conditions that unquestionably meet the UN official definition of forced labour or modern-day slavery," EJF investigator Duncan Copeland said. A report on the abuses is published by the foundation today.

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