FILM: IN PRODUCTION

THE GHOST FLEET

FISHING SLAVES

It’s estimated that 10% of commercial fishermen today work under conditions that classify them as slaves. Like sex slaves and indentured houseworkers, these shing slaves are recruited from small rural villages, mostly in Southeast Asia, where they gather their life savings in order to “buy” a job on a boat.

THE GHOST FLEET

T

he Ghost Fleet is a documentary feature that uncovers the vast injustice of slavery in the Thai fishing industry through thrilling escape stories. Thailand supplies a large portion of America’s seafood, but Thailand’s giant fishing fleet is chronically short tens of thousands of fishermen per year. Human traffickers have stepped in, selling captives from the region to the captains for a few hundred dollars each.

Once at sea, the men may never return to land – unless they escape. These boats work the islands of Indonesia and Thailand, but also off the coasts of West Africa and Europe. Attempts to “certify” where fish come from, and who is catching it, are in the works but are currently hit-and-miss. In the meantime, as fishing stocks are depleted and commercial fishing operations toiling under tighter and tighter budgets, the need for slave labor grows. Threats and punishments do too.

Next time you order a fish in a restaurant or buy it from a freezer at your local shop, ask yourself, who caught this fish?

There is no greater force on Earth than the promise of freedom. The Gulf of Thailand, once teeming with life, is now barren. Decades ago, Thai boats plied rich waters and came home full after a few days or weeks. Now captains are out for years, chasing fish as far away as Ethiopia. As Thailand’s prosperity increases, fishermen are finding more family-friendly work and the enormous Thai fishing fleet—the second-biggest supplier of fish to the United States—is short tens of thousands of men per year.

Human trafficking gangs have stepped into the gap, luring men out of villages in Cambodia, Bangladesh and Myanmar [Burma] with false promises of well paying jobs in prosperous Thailand. Instead, they sell the men to captains for a few hundred dollars and the captives are held at sea, no land in sight, for years on end. Boats make perfect prisons. Meanwhile, families at home wait for their men to return–elders plow fields, wives hold funerals after years of absence. Entire villages in Cambodia and Myanmar are eerily without men.

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The Ghost Fleet

A film by Seahorse Productions & Oceans 8 Films
Directed by Shannon Service & Jeff Waldron 

A film by Seahorse Productions & Oceans 8 Films
Directed by Shannon Service & Jeff Waldron 

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