Crew working on a foreign charter vessel, New Zealand
Fishermen on a foreign-chartered vessel (FCV) at work in New Zealand’s Southern Ocean. The fish caught on the FCVs may be sold in New Zealand, Australia, Europe, Asia, or the United States. (Photo released by the New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries under the Official Information Act.)

Press Coverage of
 Slavery at Sea

The concept of slavery in New Zealand’s waters—and in our supply chains—is new to American audiences. But since 2009, the New Zealand press has been reporting about abusive practices aboard foreign-chartered vessels.


New Zealand Press

Iwi exemption threatens NZ fisheries: Talley, Michael Field, July 30, 2013,

Timaru: Fishing crews chase $17m in unpaid wages, Al Williams, April 19, 2013,

"Foreign Charter Vessels to be reflagged as NZ boats,” Checkpoint, May 22, 2012, Radio New Zealand 

“Ban on foreign fishing vessels not enough–Labor,” May 22, 2012, TVNZ 

“Crackdown on foreign fishing boats,” Paul Harper, May 22, 2012, NZ Herald 

“Foreign fishing vessels to obey New Zealand law,” Tova O’Brien, May 22, 2012, 3 News 

“Government action on foreign charter vessels welcomed,” Council of Trade Unions, May 22, 2012,  

“Foreign flagged fishing boats to be banned,” Tracy Watkins, Danya Levy and Michael Field, May 22, 2012, 

"Opinion: Foreign charter vessel mess needs fix," Chalkie, March 14, 2012,

"Crew aid foreign fishing boats probe," Michael Field, March 11, 2012,

"NZ work visas for Korean ship cancelled," March 5, 2012, Radio New Zealand News

"Department of Labour action against Foreign Charter Vessel," New Zealand Department of Labour, March 5, 2012,

"Sanctions imposed against foreign charter vessel," Laura Heathcote, March 5, 2012, NewstalkZB

"Overseas hiring for fishing boat barred," Paloma Migoni, March 5, 2012,

"Action taken after ship crews' complaints," March 5, 2012, 3News New Zealand

"Action on fishing abuse escalates," Michael Field, March 4, 2012,

"Korean fishing boats damaging NZ reputation: report," Michael Field, March 2, 2o12,

"Editorial: Time to halt exploitation on high seas," March 2, 2012, New Zealand Herald

"Govt agrees action to end abuse on foreign trawlers," Amelia Romanos, March 2, 2012, New Zealand Herald

"HRC to monitor outcomes of foreign charter vessels inquiry," March 1, 2012, Voxy

"Slavery in our seas," David Farrar, March 1, 2012, New Zealand Herald

"Trust says boat crew owed $1m in wages," Tina Law, February 20, 2012,

“Second Korean Fishing Vessel arrested in New Zealand,” Slave Free Seas (press release), February 17, 2012, Scoop Independent News

“UN Rapporteur on Trafficking In Persons Quotes NZ Action,” The Mekong Club (press release), December 23, 2011,

“Kiwis join struggle against sea slavery,” Michael Field, November 20, 2011,

“Fishermen claim unpaid wages, sexual abuse,” Hamish Clark, November 16, 2011, 3News New Zealand

“Fishing rivals face off over foreign boats,” Bill Moore, October 28, 2011,

“Ngapuhi fishing with Asian charters 'not slavery,'” October 27, 2011, TVNZ 

“Probe exposes fishing underbelly,” Michael Field, October 23, 2011,

“Fishing 'slave labour' slated,” Helen Murdoch, October 20, 2011,

“Fishing charges for Oyang 75 officers point to industry wide failings,” October 16, 2011, Maritime Union of New Zealand

“'Model' fishermen face grim charges,” Michael Field, October 16, 2011,

“Maritime Union of New Zealand Submission to the Ministerial Inquiry into use and operation of Foreign Charter Vessels,” Joe Fleetwood, October 7, 2011, MUNZ (especially pp. 7-10) 

“Migrants in NZ trapped in forced labour: US official,” Lincoln Tan, September 22, 2011, New Zealand Herald 

“Not in New Zealand’s Waters, Surely? Labour and Human Rights Abuses Aboard Foreign Fishing Vessels,” Cristina Stringer, etc., September 15, 2011. The University of Auckland 

“Review undertaken after beacon clipped by vessel,” Rebecca Foz, August 25, 2011, Otago Daily Times 

“Major fishing industry inquiry unveiled,” August 23, 2011, TVNZ

“Oyang 70 crew reveal why ship sank,” Hamish Clark, August 22, 2011, 3News New Zealand

“Storm brews over fishing firm's make-over,” Michael Field, August 21, 2011,

“Slave fishing in NZ waters exposed,” Michael Field, August 11, 2011,

“Exclusive: Seas of shame,” Sophie Bond, August 11, 2011, The Aucklander 

“‘Foreign fishing crews 'treated like slaves in NZ waters',” Elizabeth Puranam, August 11, 2011, 3News New Zealand

“Foreign fishing boat crew alleging abuse could be deported,” August 10, 2011, TVNZ 

“Inquiry 'will get to bottom' of foreign fishing vessel issues,” August 9, 2011,

“Fishing Probe Turns Ugly,” Michael Field, August 7, 2011,

“Fishing rivals in 'dangerous game of chicken',” Tim Donoghue, July 23, 2011,

"Families of fishing crew face backlash,” Michael Field, July 10, 2011,

“Iwi blamed for state of fishery,” Michael Field, May 5, 2011,

“Media claims about foreign vessels incorrect,” May 2011, Southern Storm Fishing

“Slavery at sea claims spark NZ fishing audit call,” Bridget Jones, April 3, 2011,

"Slavery at sea exposed," Michael Field, April 3, 2011,

“‘We need more cheap foreign fishermen’,” Michael Field, October 17, 2010,

“Southern Storm Fishing Rejects False Claims,” August 22, 2010, Southern Storm Fishing 

“Overfishing and dumping angers industry,” January 1, 2009,

“Modern Day Slavery: Employment Conditions for Foreign Fishing Crews in NZ,” JA Devlin, 2009, Australian and New Zealand Maritime Law Journal  

Reporter Michael Field has written extensively about the issue of slavery in New Zealand seas. You can read about the foreign-chartered vessel controversy on Field’s website.

Australia Press

"Reports foreign fishing crews abused in NZ waters," March 1, 2012, Austrial Network News

“Maritime Union of New Zealand says ultimate responsibility for Rena lies with the Government,” Maritime Union of New Zealand, October 14, 2011, Maritime Union of Australia

“'Fishermen in slavery' in NZ waters,” August 12, 2011, The Australian

Indonesia Press

“Stop slavery at sea: Seamen’s association,” Ridwan Max Sijabat, September 3, 2011, The Jakarta Post 

“Korean bosses cruel, claim RI ship jumpers,” Duncan Graham, August 10, 2011, The Jakarta Post

“NZ Police Rescue Abused Indonesian Sailors in June,” July 16, 2011, Jakarta Globe

Other Resources about the Global Fishing Industry and Human Rights

“Not in Zealand’s Waters, Surely?: Labour and Human Rights Abuses Abroad Foreign Fishing Vessels,” Christina Stringer, Glenn Simmons and Daren Coulston, 2011, New Zealand Asia Institute Working Papers Series 

Slave Free Seas: News

“Food & Beverage Information Project 2011: Depth Sector Stream–Seafood,” October 2011, Coriolis 

“The Legal Regime Governing the Operation of Foreign Charter Fishing Vessels in New Zealand,” Dawson, Peter and Renee Hunt, 2011, Dawson & Hunt Associates  

“Background Paper on the Use of Foreign Charter Vessels,” 2011, New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries

“All At Sea: The Abuse of Human Rights Aboard Illegal Fishing Vessels,” 2010, Environmental Justice Foundation: London 

“Modern Day Slavery: Employment Conditions for Foreign Fishing Crews in New Zealand Waters,” Jennifer Devlin, 2009, Maritime Journal 

“Seafood Supply Chain Management: Methods to Prevent Illegally-Caught Product Entry into the Marketplace,” Cathy A. Roheim, 2008, IUCN World Conservation Union-US 

“Seafood Traceability: A Practical Guide for the U.S. Industry,” Arni Petersen and David Green, National Fisheries Institute 

“Seafood Traceability in the United States: Current Trends, System Design, and Potential Applications,” M. Thompson, G. Sylvia and M.T. Morrissey, 2005, Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety 

Last page update: July 30, 2013.