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We have banned slavery on land – how about the ocean?

Author: Obiageli Ezekwesili, member of Global Ocean Commission, in Africa Report, Published on: 20 August 2013

...[T]oday...a long-awaited international agreement comes into force...– the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC). It will secure rights for an estimated 1.1 million seafarers...primarily on merchant vessels and passenger ships...Yet...[many more] will not...[including] the ones most in need of assistance...The International Office for Migration reports that some workers on fishing vessels in Asia 'are expected to work 18 to 20 hours of back-breaking manual labour per day, seven days per week'...Civil society organisations such as the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) have...discovered...torture, beatings, imprisonment and killings...On the rare occasions when...authorities mount prosecutions, it is usually impossible to track down the vessel's real owner...MLC...[was developed] jointly [by]...ship owners and seafarers' unions. For...ship owners, [the motive] was recognition that without a global standard, reputable operators would be undercut by unscrupulous rivals. The MLC leveled the playing field. The same, now, is true for the fishing industry.

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