Feb 17th 2012
Second Korean Fishing Vessel arrested in New Zealand
Slave Free Seas have today instigated the arrest of a second Korean flagged vessel berthed in Lyttleton Harbour,
Christchurch, New Zealand, with claims of unpaid wages and other human rights abuses.
“It is the second vessel in a long list of vessels that we have an interest in because of covert ownership arrangements
and attempts to prevent compliance with NZ law “ said Craig Tuck spokesperson for the Trust.
These vessels are now attracting international attention as modern day slave ships as defined under the UN definition of
trafficking, according to the UN International Labour Organisation (ILO) and European Commission Operational Indicators
of Trafficking in Human Beings.
As many as 2000 foreign men are currently working in New Zealand waters, many exploited labour from poor countries such
“ A very positive outcome has been New Zealand’s Ministry of Fisheries, Department of Labour and the NZ Police taking
these illegal operations seriously and actively progressing various investigations. If we can clean up our waters from
this shameful practise, we can return to promoting our clean image and our law abiding fishing industry as one of the
best in the world. Why wouldn’t we do this? “ Tuck added
Researchers at the Business School at the University of Auckland in New Zealand revealed the first detailed and
documented cases of human trafficking in New Zealand in 2011.
The paper, Not in New Zealand's Waters, Surely? documented labour abuses, and in some cases disturbing human rights
breaches, on foreign-chartered fishing vessels contracted to New Zealand companies and operating in the exclusive
Their work indicated many of the 2000 foreign men working in New Zealand waters are modern day slaves under the UN
definition of trafficking, and according to the UN International Labour Organisation (ILO) and European Commission
Operational Indicators of Trafficking in Human Beings.
In response to this and growing media coverage of alleged abuses on other foreign owned vessels, a group of New Zealand
nationals formed an organisaton and charitable trust -Slave Free Seas (SFS) (
), headed by Barrister Craig Tuck.
On December 2nd, 2011 Slave Free Seas instigated the arrest of a Korean flagged vessel berthed in Lyttleton Harbour,
Christchurch, New Zealand, with claims of unpaid wages and allegations of physical and sexual abuse.
This arrest signaled the beginning of an international test case to prove existing laws can be applied not just talked
about or ignored entirely. Since then worldwide interest has grown in monitoring developments in New Zealand as a case
study in how to confront and deal with the complexities of modern slavery using existing laws and protocols.
The aim, says SFS is to develop practical prosecution protocols and remedies (using private and public resources) that
can be used globally to eradicate modern slavery.
Based on the University findings and a growing body of evidence, “this is not a wages dispute”, continues Tuck, “it’s
not workplace bullying. It appears to be serious brazen offending by transnational companies and individuals, against
International law and domestic legislation. This is a dirty supply chain and dirty dealings in human trafficking against
people who cannot stand up for themselves. It looks like a multi million dollar scam, not third world opportunistic
Slave Free Seas recognizes that this current situation is just the tip of the iceberg. “There are laws, and we want them
applied and enforced,” says Tuck.
One of Slave Free Seas supporters is Matt Freidman, from the United Nations Interagency Project on Human Trafficking (UNIAP) Regional Project Manager out of Bangkok, Thailand
“Throughout the world, there are many fishing fleets that have highly exploitative, slave-like conditions,” says
Friedman, Up until now, very little has been done to address these conditions anywhere. The events that are unfolding in
New Zealand have now set a precedent for the first international test case on this matter – to draw a line in the sand
for the fishing industry to say this abuse will end here. This groundbreaking effort could become the beginning of a
much larger movement to address these same issues on fishing boats all over the world. The result of this being? A
significant form of slavery will be put to rest forever.”