Mapping the Arctic Floor

By MarEx 2015-08-03 15:38:10

The University of New Hampshire and scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently completed a three-week expedition to map the Arctic Sea floor. The Arctic is one of the least-known seafloor areas in the world.

The mapping expedition was completed by two NOAA ships, the M/V Rainer and the M/V Fairweather and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Healy as well as a private contractor covered nearly 12,000 nautical miles in order to update current nautical charts.

The seafloor data collected during the expedition will enable scientists better understand the underwater landscape in the Arctic and improve climate and ocean current circulation models. This was the fourth expedition in a series of cruises to map the Arctic sea floor.

For more information on seafloor mapping, visit www.noaa.gov.

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Slave Ships Harvest World’s Seafood

By MarEx 2015-08-03 15:10:40

Papa New Guinea authorities arrested a Thai fishing vessel crewed with slave laborers. Six Cambodian and two Burmese were rescued from the Blissful Reefer.

The fishing vessel was impounded in Daru, Papua New Guinea, which is about 120 miles north of Australia. Authorities state that the Blissful Reefer is one of 33 fishing trawlers suspected of being part of a trans-national human-trafficking network that distributes seafood caught by imprisoned slaves around the Indonesian islands of Benjina. The trawlers are being tracked in the fishing grounds off the south coast of Papa New Guinea.

The Thai seafood sector is a massive $7.8 billion industry, which is the third largest seafood exporter in the world. Thailand also has an extensive history of using slave labor. According to the Global Slavery Index, people are routinely enslaved and forced to work on Thai-owned trawlers. It was noted by the Index that about 500,000 people are currently enslaved in Thailand for illegal forced labor.

Not much is known about the crime syndicates that capture and use the slaved labor. But, Thai seafood trawlers are known to transport catches to a large refrigerated “mothership” that ships the fish back to Thailand.

In June 2014, the U.S. State Department downgraded Thailand to the worst category in its annual ranking for human-trafficking, and puts it into the same category as North Korea and the Central Africa Republic. In response to U.S. claims, the Thai government has increase its efforts to prevent and suppress human-trafficking.

Meanwhile, the Royal Thai Navy says it is aware of people being held captive on slave ships off its coast. “The truth is they use fishing boats to transport people and the bottom of the boat becomes like a room to put the people, but it seems like a commercial fishing boat,” said Royal Thai Navy spokesman Rear Admiral Kan Deeubol.

The Maritime Executive reported on Thailand’s slavery problem earlier this year. You can read the article here.

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MPHRP announces new head under ISWAN

Tom Holmer, former head of the International Transport Workers’ Federation’s Seafarers’ Trust, has been chosen to lead the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP). Holmer will take up his new roleat MPHRP once it becomes part of the International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance
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