We lower ourselves, to a kneeling position, as one fisherman keeps careful watch to see if the captain is listening, as a Filipino and Indonesian explain the abuse they encounter on-board out in the open sea.
Week after week we have heard reports, and are still dealing with reports of fisherman being abused at sea, however this year, maybe through the awareness our cause has created, more and more fisherman, now almost on a weekly basis, report to us, of the abuse they experience at sea. The abuse takes place primarily in the form, of being slapped or kicked around.
A particular case which we, (ITF, myself, and representatives of the Indonesian consulate) have encountered just three weeks ago; was one where fisherman worked in shifts of 38 hours, to which the owners and agents have unashamedly admitted to.
My concern lies with the Filipino fisherman, time and time again, despite abuse and despite my offer of help; they choose to continue with their contracts, their fear being that they will not find wok once they return back to the Philippines, since poverty and unemployment is rife in their country, they are thus willing to endure abuse, in order to provide for their families. The Indonesians, probably due to the backing of the consulate and the confidence their aid, refuse to accept any form of abuse, and often report any such cases, should and when they arise.
The fishing industry is a cruel world, owners and agents employ the cheapest possible labour, often resulting in a mixed crew, with a Chinese or Taiwanese captain on board. Due to language barriers, abuse is the language medium.
What concerns me is, what happens when these fisherman go back out to sea, what happens to them? This is pure speculation; but them being afraid to speak of the details of abuse, for fear of what might happen to them once they are out at sea, gives me an indication as to the extent and a manner the fear is driven into them.