SLAVERY AT SEA
Once the captain of the Sam
Simon—a Sea Shepherd vessel patrolling the Arctic to catch illegal toothfish operators— Siddharth Chakravarty now has a very different view of the battle.
When the conservation group’s Operation Icefish nabbed the Thunder for illegal fishing in 2015, Chakravarty and his sailors saved 30 Indonesian fishermen from drowning after the Caucasian officials running the ship opted to scuttle the vessel and flee. “It was so reminiscent of the hierarchies of the colonial era. The officers had their suitcases packed, while the fishermen were scrambling to save what they could,” he recalls.
The incident convinced him that activism was creating a serious problem for an already-vulnerable community and eventually led him to leave Sea Shepherd for an MSc in the politics of conflict, rights and justice at SOAS, London.
“In certain cases, enforcement creates more conflict,” he says, pointing out that two million migrant workers are employed by fishing companies. He believes it’s only a matter of time before the Indian fishing industry goes the same way. “It may not be migrant workers, but it’ll be some other vulnerable community,” he says.