Driftwood 6 04

Driftwood 6 04

A while ago, I wrote about the historian Marcus Rediker’s books on the crude reality of seafarers in the early 18th century.


(c) Greenpeace/P. Gleizes, from the article “Happiness: The Chinese zombie ships of West Africa”

As a matter of fact, things are not very different today – seafarers still have one of the very harshest and most dangerous professions. Martin Whitfield writes about the exploitation, abuse and corruption faced by workers on board ships today. Attempts to enforce worker’s rights for seafarers “have been hampered by a simple fact: while the majority of seafarers come from relatively poor countries, the majority of ship owners come from relatively rich ones.”

“Out of sight, out of mind – Seafarers, fishers and human rights”, a publication by the International Transport Workers’ Federation, details many cases of abuse and abandonment.

Greenpeace in joint with Environmental Justice Foundation have investigated “pirate fishing”. The coasts of Africa are trawled illegally on industrial scale by foreign fishing fleets, serving the European market. This threatens to destroy the local fishing communities as the fish is running out. But who are the workers on board these pirate fishing vessels? In a video interview we meet Shu Quin, father of a child he has met only twice in five years, living on a rusty ghost of a ship.


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