Human Rights Abuse & Amputations in Fijian Crewed Fisheries

Press Release

20th May 2019

“They had to amputate my fingers because of gangrene. I remember how humiliated I was at the CWM Hospital because I couldn’t use my hands to go to the toilet.”

London. UK. In the latest of the Human Rights at Sea series of investigative case studies, the charity supported by the NGO Pacific Dialogue, today publishes a new personal family case study concerning bad working conditions, poor medical treatment and the consequences of unacceptable labour practices onboard tuna fishing vessels manned by Fijian and Indonesian crew from 1999.

“We were supposed to work in short shifts in the bottom freezer (held at minus 40 degrees) but we had to stay there because we couldn’t get out. My hands were frozen and I couldn’t talk properly because my jaws wouldn’t work. ”

The case study highlights a series of past work incidents onboard South Korean fishing vessels which led to the subject of the investigation, Josaia Cama, losing the use of his fingers through amputation due to working in freezer store rooms without adequate hand protection at sub-zero temperatures of -40 degrees centigrade. 

As an example of a historic incident, the charity continues to receive similar reports of poor working conditions in tuna fleets from Fijian crew.

The aim of the latest publication is to continue to raise international attention of the human rights abuses which have occurred and remain being currently reported in fishing fleets operating in the Pacific region.

Charity Founder, David Hammond, commented: “Crew safety, welfare standards and conditions of employment must be comprehensively addressed and constantly improved throughout the global fishing fleets to protect the fundamental rights of workers.”

Pacific Dialogue’s CEO, Patricia Kailola, comments: “Because we are in Fiji, we can only report on Fijians. Yet we know of similar abuse on vessels to men from other Pacific Islands States and Pacific Rim countries. Fishing companies and captains forget that men sign on as crew just so that they can earn money to care for their families – just like the company managers and captains do; they are willing to work hard for the well-being of the people they love.  So why are they treated like slaves, denied common humanity, and made to endure poor food, injury, and subhuman conditions? With the support of HRAS, Pacific Dialogue will continue to bring you stories of these men and their families – and there are hundreds to tell.”
Human Rights Abuse in Fijian Crewed Fisheries – The story of Josaia and Virisila Cama
“We were supposed to work in short shifts in the bottom freezer (held at minus 40 degrees) but we had to stay there because we couldn’t get out. My hands were frozen and I couldn’t talk properly because my jaws wouldn’t work. ”

ENDS.

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