Ambassador Blake hosted an April 20 @america event that highlighted last year’s rescue of over 1,500 fishermen trafficked onto foreign fishing vessels and forced to work as slave labor in Indonesian waters. Associated Press (AP) journalist Margie Mason described the investigation that led her to break the Pulitzer Prize-winning story.
Mason explained how she located trafficked fishermen, traced the fish they caught to seafood conglomerates in Thailand and onward to U.S. distributors, and identified illegal fishing vessels with enslaved crews using satellite imagery.
Her efforts helped Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti track down and detain suspect vessels, liberate their crews, and then repatriate them with help from the International Organization for Migration, backed by donor funding from the U.S., Australia, and Norway.
Yunus Husein, Special Adviser to the Government of Indonesia’s Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing task force, presented on ongoing efforts to seek remuneration for trafficked fishermen, enforce new government regulations on human rights in the fishing industry, and protect Indonesian fishermen trafficked on foreign vessels outside of Indonesian waters.
Two of the repatriated fishermen participated via Digital Video Conference from the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon.