Papua New Guinea Authorities managed to arrest a Thai fishing ship crewed with slave laborers. Two Burmese and six Cambodian were rescued from the Blissful Reefer vessel.
The ship was impounded by the respective authorities in Daru, Papua New Guinea, at roughly 120 miles north of Australia. According to authorities, the Blissful Reefer is among 33 other fishing trawlers under suspicion of taking part in a trans-national human-trafficking network that is responsible for distributing seafood caught by imprisoned slaves around the Indonesian islands of Benjina. The trawlers in question are tracked in Papa New Guinea’s south coast fishing grounds.
Thailand’s seafood sector amounts to an astounding USD 7.8 billion industry, which happens to be enough to make it the world’s 3rd biggest seafood exporter. The country also has a well-documented history of exploiting slaves. As evident by the Global Slavery Index, people are getting enslaved and subsequently forced to work on Thailand trawlers on a routine basis. The Index makes it clear that approximately 500,000 people in total are enslaved at the moment in Thailand for the purposes of illegal forced labor.
There isn’t much information regarding the crime syndicates that are responsible for capturing and using the slaved labor. Thailand’s seafood trawlers are, however, known for transporting catches to a big refrigerated “mothership” that then itself transports the fish back to the country.
Back in June of last year, the United States Department opted in to downgrade Thailand to its annual human-trafficking ranking’s worst category, putting it amongst countries such as the Central Africa Republic and North Korea. Thailand’s government has responded to U.S. claims by increasing its efforts of preventing and suppressing human-trafficking activities.
The Royal Thai Navy comments that it is truly aware that people are being held captive on slave vessels off the country’s coast.
“They employ fishing boats for transporting people and the boat’s bottom becomes a sort of a room to keep the people, but on the outside it looks like an ordinary commercial fishing vessel,” commented Rear Admiral Kan Deeubol, as a spokesperson for Thailand’s Royal Navy.