Author(s): Alastair Couper
In Fishers and Plunderers, Alastair Couper, Hance D. Smith and Bruno Ciceri focus on the exploitation of fish and fishers alike in a global industry driven by profits, with little consideration given to either resource conservation or human rights. With vast overprovision of vessels and shortages of fish, labour costs are targeted and young men are trafficked from poor areas onto vessels in virtual slavery. The resultant poverty and debt bonding pushes many towards trafficking drugs and piracy - although the criminality linked to the industry extends far beyond the level of the individual, vessel or fleet. The book provides evidence of these crimes and injustices, with the authors arguing for regulations which if implemented could protect the rights of fishers across the board. In doing so, the authors shed a much needed light on a largely hidden world. Those wishing to better the lives of fishers both at sea and ashore will find it to be a persuasive and essential guide.
Alastair Couper, in keeping with the courage demonstrated in previous writings, has once again taken on an industry riddled with corruption, mismanagement and abuse as is that of the fishing industry. He challenges the international community with a wakeup call as he demonstrates the evidence of the criminality embedded in the various functions of the global fisheries. He musters irrefutable evidence in his diligent research as he exposes the unscrupulous who take advantage of loopholes in the regime of fisheries governance. Alastair has exposed the dirty secret of human rights abuse that borders on genocide of innocent young fishers in an industry infested with criminality where the flag state is absent or where it is victim and culprit at the same time. This book is a challenge to our humanity, a call for action to reverse this onslaught on our blue planet, and for policies of reason to replace the state of denial that is currently the nature of this troubled industry. -- Dr Awni Behnam, Honorary President, International Ocean Institute, Former United Nations Assistant Secretary General Fishers and Plunderers tells a compelling story of a complex ocean industry and the most dangerous profession in the world. The fisheries industry continues to play a central role in the world's food supply and is unlikely to be displaced by aquaculture in the foreseeable future. Efforts at promoting sustainable fisheries have largely yielded negative results. Overcapacity, illegal fishing (stolen fish) and adverse environmental impacts continue even with modernized law of the sea and fisheries law. However, the costs of the industry are not merely economic and environmental, but also human and social, and the latter are largely invisible. Fishers and Plunderers is a brave work that exposes abuse. By any measure, the fishing profession is more often than not a hard and dangerous life, irrespective of location. While there are responsible operators, there are also unscrupulous ones who know no limits to the exploitation of fisherfolk, including poor occupational health and safety, exploitation of migrant labour and their families, mistreatment and even slavery and murder. Part of the problem is caused by weak jurisdictional oversight over an industry which is transnational. In addition to poor working conditions, especially in developing countries, fisherfolk may also become victims of piracy and drug trafficking, although sometimes they themselves engage in such activities. It is a tragic irony that violations of fundamental human rights of fisherfolk continue to occur at sea in the era of "ocean governance" and growing international labour law protection. By employing multidisciplinary perspectives, this book produces new insights on the "sustainability" discourse in the fishing industry where economic and environmental factors are underscored by human tragedy. It offers possible solutions to complex interrelated problems. Fishers and Plunderers is a must read for policy makers, scholars, activists and students concerned with universal human rights at sea and the moral imperative to protect vulnerable people. -- Aldo Chircop This is yet another brilliant work not to be missed from Professor Couper. It is a compelling work on fishers brilliantly written for a wide audience - from policy makers, universities, training institutions, human rights groups to the consumers of fish. This book brings to light a very alarming current global issue on inhumane living and working conditions of fishers, especially migrant workers in the fishing industry, focusing on their plight and emphasising the need for their protection through international legal instruments and encouraging a more active role by NGOs and consumers of fish. -- Dr. Sabirin Ja'afar, Judicial Commisioner, High Court, Malaysia.
Professor Alastair D. Couper began his career as a Ships Officer and qualified Master Mariner. He then became a Research Scholar working on Pacific Studies at the Australian National University before returning to the UK to take up academic posts at the University of Durham, followed by the University of Cardiff and the World Maritime University in Sweden. His books include Voyages of Abuse (Pluto Press 1999), Seafarers' Rights (Part One) Oxford University Press 2005, and Sailors and Traders (University of Hawaii Press) 2009. He is on the Board of Seafarers' Rights International. Hance D. Smith specialises in Marine Geography and Marine Policy including the development and management of marine fisheries Father Bruno Ciceri is representative of the Apostleship of the Sea International (Vatican City), Chairman of the International Christian Maritime Association, and is a member of the Board of Seafarers' Rights International. He has worked for many years caring for seafarers and fishers in several countries of Asia. He has published on sea fishers' conditions and human rights.
Acknowledgements Acronyms and abbreviations List of Figures, Tables, Boxes and Plates 1 Introduction THE FISHING INDUSTRY AND THE RACE TO FISH 2 Fish, gear and boats 3 The risks of working at sea 4 Nation states' rights to fish 5 Employment and poverty in fishing communities 6 Destruction and theft of fish stocks 7 Laundering and marketing stolen fish THE PLIGHT OF THE FISHERS 8 Arrests of fishers 9 Getting a crew by dubious contracting and slave trafficking 10 Abuses and slavery at sea 11 Escape from hell 12 Fishing vessels and the drugs trades 13 Piracy and armed robbery 14 Conclusion - problems and prospects Notes Index