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Dispatches from The Outlaw Ocean Episode 2: Bondage at Sea

Outlaw Ocean project
Cambodian migrant workers on Thai fishing ship (Courtesy Fábio Nascimento/The Outlaw Ocean Project)

Published Apr 24, 2023 3:55 PM by The Maritime Executive

This episode is the second installment in a 10-part short film series from The Outlaw Ocean Project. It stems from more than a decade of reporting by Ian Urbina exploring crime on the high seas. The series chronicles a gritty cast of characters including traffickers and smugglers, pirates and mercenaries, shackled slaves and vigilante conservationists.

Our oceans are running out of fish. As stocks disappear, ships are having to travel farther offshore to fulfill their quotas and margins for profit have become razor thin. As a result, captains increasingly turn to trafficked, debt-bonded and forced labor to make ends meet.

A global scourge, sea slavery is something most people do not realize exists. In this episode, Ian Urbina takes viewers onboard roach and rat-infested ships on the South China Sea to explore how overfishing has given rise to trans-shipment, fish-laundering, and a prevalence of abuse that companies and governments have a tough time tracking or countering. 

This series was produced by The Outlaw Ocean Project (www.theoutlawocean.com).

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.