Tech so­lu­tions to tackle over­fish­ing, la­bor abuse at sea

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Martha Men­doza

Fish­ing boats used high-tech sys­tems to find vast schools of fish for decades, de­plet­ing stocks of some species and lead­ing to the com­plete col­lapse of others. Now more than a dozen apps, de­vices and mon­i­tor­ing sys­tems aimed at track­ing un­scrupu­lous ves­sels and the seafood they catch are be­ing rolled out — high-tech so­lu­tions some say could also help pre­vent la­bor abuse at sea.

Il­le­gal fish­ing, which in­cludes catch­ing un­der­sized fish, ex­ceed­ing quo­tas and cast­ing nets in pro­tected ar­eas, leads to an es­ti­mated $23 bil­lion in an­nual losses, ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions. Mean­while, over­fish­ing close to shore has pushed boats far­ther out, where there are few laws and even less en­force­ment to pro­tect work­ers from abuse. Slav­ery has been doc­u­mented in the fish­ing sec­tors of more than 50 coun­tries, ac­cord­ing to U.S. State De­part­ment re­ports.

Ear­lier this year, U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry said us­ing tech­nol­ogy at sea could even­tu­ally mean “there is not one square mile of ocean where we can­not pros­e­cute and hold peo­ple ac­count­able...”

How­ever, Phil Robert­son, deputy Asia di­rec­tor of Hu­man Rights Watch, cau­tions that catch­ing hu­man traf­fick­ers goes be­yond find­ing boats.

“Tech­nol­ogy is all about know­ing where the fish­ing boats are on the ocean, but that does pre­cious lit­tle for crews be­ing phys­i­cally abused and worked to the bone on those ves­sels,” he said.

Here are some emerg­ing tech so­lu­tions: and Cam­bo­dian mi­grant work­ers around the world to share in­for­ma­tion about their work­ing con­di­tions. Their re­views reach non­prof­its, gov­ern­ments and busi­nesses which can mon­i­tor and learn from the feed­back. Com­bined with a new mul­ti­lin­gual hot­line, vic­tims of la­bor abuses have a safer, dis­creet way of seek­ing help.

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