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29 Oct 2020

Basten Gokkon & Philip Jacobson, Mongabay

Breaking: Deaths of 2 more Indonesian crew uncovered on board Chinese tuna fleet

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29 October 2020

Another Indonesian crew member has died aboard the Long Xing 629, a Chinese vessel alleged to have used forced labor to engage in illegal fishing, including shark finning, Mongabay has learned.

The man, 22-year-old Saleh Anakota, passed away on Aug. 10, three months after the boat became the focus of an international outcry over the deaths of four other Indonesian crew, who fell sick from an unknown illness after allegedly being physically abused and overworked by senior officers.


In addition to Saleh, a 30-year-old crew member named Rudi Ardianto died on Aug. 8 aboard another DOF ship, the Tian Xiang 16, the documents show.

Both died from “sickness,” according to Judha Nugraha, the ministry’s director-general of citizen protection.

“There must be a further examination to determine the cause of the sickness,” Judha told Mongabay in a text message on Oct. 27.


Indonesian crew members [...] before being sent back to Indonesia, that they had suffered from brutal working conditions and unhealthy living conditions.

“They drank salty water converted from sea water while their Chinese counterparts drank bottled water,” the report says. “The crew members claimed that drinking the salty water made their colleagues sick leading to death.”

It adds, “They were physically assaulted by some of the Chinese crew. Moreover, the crew stayed onboard for 13 months, never disembarking at a port. Multiple transshipments at sea allowed the continued operation of the ship for a prolonged period.”

Crew members also said the captain confiscated their passports, made them work an average of 18 hours a day and directed them to use specialized gear to catch and fin a large number of sharks, including endangered species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).