Conflict & Justice

Slaves at Sea: Investigation into Foreign-Chartered Commercial Fishing Vessels in New Zealand Waters

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A fisherman on a foreign-chartered vessel looks over the recent catch from New Zealand’s Southern Ocean. (Courtesy of the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism; Photo released by the New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries under the Official Informati

Life on a commercial fishing vessel is tough at the best of times.

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But E. Benjamin Skinner says that some workers on foreign-chartered commercial fishing vessels in the seas off New Zealand operate under conditions of indentured servitude — and are essentially modern-day slaves.

Skinner is a Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University.

He's published his findings in an article in Bloomberg Businessweek.

Skinner's report is the culmination of a six-month investigation on three continents. His research included interviews with former workers aboard the Korean-flagged Melilla 201 and 203, as well as other ships.

After his article was published, one of his main sources, Yusril (not his real name), came under threat and had to go into hiding.

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