Each year, thousands of men and boys labour under extremely exploitative conditions on commercial fishing vessels owned by Taiwanese, Chinese and South Korean companies.
The Taiwanese fleet, which operates in all reaches of the globe, is alone estimated to have around 100,000 foreign fishers in its crew, mainly from Indonesia, the Philippines and Cambodia.
These fishing vessels mainly catch tuna, marlin and swordfish, but they have also been found to catch threatened species, including sharks, dolphins, turtles, whales and seabirds. Much of the catch is sold fresh to markets in Asia, but is also processed in countries like Thailand and exported beyond Asia, including to Australia.
The conditions on many of these vessels are shocking. The fishers are often expected to work up to 20 hours a day, seven days a week, leaving little time for adequate rest.
Food is often in poor supply, expired or rotting, and a one-litre ration of drinking water must be shared among three men. Injuries, illness and physical and sexual violence are commonplace. The number of deaths on these ships is increasingly drawing attention from the international community.
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