New Zealand Fisheries: Slavery at Sea and Forced Labour Case Study

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The first case study covering the topic of slavery at sea relating to New Zealand fisheries has been published by HRAS. The detail contained therein is authored and supplied by the New Zealand NGO, Slave Free Seas.

Part 1 & Part 2 detail the abuse of  chartered foreign vessel crew in detail.


Adi’s journey into forced labour began in Indonesia. In order to secure a job aboard a foreign fishing vessel, Adi was required to pay money to an Indonesian manning agent; this is in clear violation of the ILO Conventions 9 and 179 which requires the employer to pay the agent. Additionally Adi was required to provide collateral. The Indonesian agent, contracted by a Korean manning agent to source local crew (See Table 1 for parties potentially involved in the forced labour trafficking chain), had acquired a job for Adi on a South Korean vessel fishing in New Zealand’s waters. Adi was called to the agent’s office to sign an application form for a New Zealand work visa – the form had been pre-completed by his agent. Adi was also required to sign a stack of papers about an inch high. The agent held the papers so that only the corner of the page was exposed for initialling. The reality was Adi did not know what he signing. This was the initial step in Adi becoming a victim of human trafficking for forced labour. Further, this is evidence of deception as per the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (hereafter the Trafficking Protocol).

Adi is just one of many Indonesian crew members who have worked on South Korean foreign charter vessels (FCVs) fishing on behalf of New Zealand companies and quota holders. In 2014, there were approximately 201 crew members working on 7 South Korean fishing1 vessels operating in New Zealand’s waters.

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