As the Maritime Union fights for the rights of seafarers in New Zealand waters, a new report from the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) to the United Nations paints a disturbing picture of abuses of human rights at sea.
The report names the case of the ‘Sky 75’ in New Zealand waters as one of “ruthless exploitation of fishing crews.”
The New Zealand ITF and Maritime Union took action when 10 Indonesian crew left the Korean registered fishing vessel ‘Sky 75’ in the Port of Nelson in September 2005.
Crew members on the ‘Sky 75’ reported abuse, harsh working conditions and extremely poor conditions.
The ITF report “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” warns that as a result of recruiting scams, vessel abandonment and virtual forced labour, some seafarers and fishers are suffering horrific abuse.
The report is being presented at a United Nations maritime law summit held in New York starting today 12 June until 16 June 2006.
The report exposes some of the terrible conditions inflicted on some seafarers and fishers, and highlights systemic failures in regulation and practice.
“The maritime and fishing industries continue to allow astonishing abuses of human rights of those working in the sector,” says the report.
Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says the report totally vindicates the strong stance of the Union on the issue.
Since the Sky 75 there have been several other serious incidents since the ‘Sky 75’, including crews jumping ship from the ‘San Liberatore’ and ‘Marinui’, and more recently a Ukrainian crew onboard the ‘Malakhov Kurgan’ in Lyttelton who had to go on strike to be paid the minimum wage.
“These are just the cases we have picked up on – I have no doubt these are the tip of the iceberg,” says Mr Hanson.
The ITF report follows a 2005 joint report from the Australian Government, the ITF, and the global conservation organization WWF, that revealed the pillaging of threatened fish stocks, human rights abuses and global pirate fishing operations were all linked problems.
The ITF report Out of Sight, Out of Mind can be downloaded at the webpage listing ITF publications:
The Australian Government/ITF/WWF report “The Changing Nature of High Seas Fishing: How Flags of Convenience provide cover for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing” can be downloaded at: