The world’s love of cheap seafood is again being blamed for contributing to widespread worker exploitation, abuse, human trafficking and even murder within the global fishing industry.
But in “Misery at Sea”, a new report from the environmental activist group, Greenpeace, some of the blame is also laid on what it says are loopholes posed by the “flags of convenience” system, Pacific Beat reports.
And that’s where certain countries in the Pacific are getting caught up, in what Greenpeace says is a global scandal.
“What we think is a major issue, is the business model that is employed around some of this distant water fishing. It is high capacity, high volume and low cost and it encourages a range of incentives for operators to cut corners and mistreat crew,” Greenpeace investigator Tim McKinnel said.
The ‘flags of convenience’ system allows foreign companies to own and control vessels that is registered, and flies under the flag of another country, like Vanuatu.
Tim McKinnel says that leaves small nations like Vanuatu with responsibilities to monitor and regulate operations onboard these vessels.
“Many of them sail all around the world, and as you can imagine, a country like Vanuatu would have great difficulty conducting investigations in various corners of the planet. This is one of the issues of the Flags of Convenience regime, is that it places the responsibility and the onus on relatively small, and often poor countries to regulate and manage these fishing vessels,” he said.
“In an ideal world I think it would be good to see a place like Vanuatu do more investigate work around the vessels that are flagged to them. They do receive money, [but] I think the question needs to be asked, whether the money they charge for flagging these vessels is sufficient to fund the type of work and regulatory work that needs to be done on these vessels, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t,” Mr McKinnel said.