Best of 2015: Exploitation at sea & What is to be done?

Jan 15, 2018, 01:00 AM


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Best of 2015:  Exploitation at sea & What is to be done? @ian_urbina

Ending the Abuse of Laws, Workers and the Environment at Sea.

 By IAN URBINA JULY 27, 2015

"...How might we better manage the world’s oceans?

This question came up often during the reporting of The New York Times’s series about lawlessness at sea. Labor, human rights and environmental abuses are widespread largely because the oceans are so sprawling, jurisdiction is complicated and policing is rare. To address these problems, maritime and law enforcement officials have proposed a variety of measures, some of them already being put into effect. They emphasized, though, that far more needs to be done. Among their recommendations:

To protect labor and human rights

Track abuse and violence at sea. To avoid the abuse or disappearance of seafarers, governments should make more spot checks on ships returning to port and levy heavier penalties for incomplete crew lists. Shipowners and crews should be legally obligated to report crimes at sea. Port officials and insurers should limit the fines imposed on ships found with stowaways that create incentives for killing or abandoning stowaways at sea. The programs that grant ships the right to fly a country’s flag should collect detailed crime data on crew members and captains and make the information public. Flag programs should also agree to help create and maintain an international database for tracking missing mariners.

Require more frequent visits to shore. Forced labor is more common on boats that stay at sea longer. Many of these boats avoid docking for years by relying on transshipment, a system where supplies are carried to the fishing boats and the catch is transported back to shore. Maritime researchers and fisheries management officials say that transshipment at sea should be banned or limited. They also argue that countries should impose requirements on how often boats return to port.

Expand the financial safety nets. Starting in 2017, an International Labor Organization rule will require shipowners to show proof of funds to cover four months of crews’ wages and the costs to repatriate them. They will also have to prove they can cover costs that result from death or long-term disability of seafarers due to occupational injury and hazard. Those rules should be expanded to fishing boats, which are currently exempt from most of the labor organization’s major protections..