23rd March 2019
“The vessel berthed early before I could get to the wharf [which is not far-distant] and I saw my husband staggering along the path to our house, bent over and clutching his stomach; I could see in his eyes that he was approaching death.”
London. UK. ‘In their Own Words’. Today, Human Rights at Sea publishes its latest case study from the perspective of the widow of a Fijian crewman who worked in the tuna fleets operating in the Pacific Ocean.
Human Rights at Sea was provided with the first-hand testimony from Salote, whose husband Mesake, died after over thirty years working as a crew member in Taiwanese long-liner fishing vessels. The case study highlights the conditions and challenges face by Fijian fishing crews, and the effect on the family members left behind after loss of the main source of family income.
The study is aimed at exposing and educating those who do not understand the background to, and the context of, commercial fishing in the Pacific region.
“While Mesake was working on the boats, we stayed with my parents in Kalekana because we did not have our own house. Our children loved living with their grandparents. My parents supported our family because we didn’t get much from my husband’s wage. It was painful for much of the time when he came back every three months: it took a month working at the wharf, getting the fish out of the vessel and into the freezer, but if the men did not go to work their pay got deducted. Usually, there would be only F$500- 600 left from his three months’ pay. As a fisherman’s wife, I always looked forward to receiving a lump sum of money for the three months, but I could see that the company was just using the men as slaves and not even giving them a rest of one week before calling them back to work at sea.”
This is the first-hand testimony of the widow of a Fjian crewman who died after thirty years of operating as crew on board Taiwanese Longliners fishing vessels. The case study highlights the conditions and challenged faced by fishing crews and the effects on their family members, left behind after the loss of the main source of family income. The study aims at educating those who do not understand the background to, and context of, commercial fishing in the Pacific.
Please support our work exposing and raising awareness of human rights abuses at sea.