Kathmandu: When it comes to abuse and corruption on Chinese fishing vessels in Ghana, Bright Tsai Kweku has seen it all.
Bright Tsai Kweku, from Ghana says, he has seen Chinese crew treating local fishermen like “slaves”. “They beat them, spit on them, kick them,”And says”I have been through that before.”
Mr Kweku works as a bosun – an officer in charge of equipment and the crew. He says he has been forced to work for three days without sleep, had food withheld from him and been forced to drink dirty water.
The fate of some of his fellow fishermen has been even worse, he says. Mr Kweku says one of his colleagues fell sick with cholera on board a Chinese vessel but the crew refused to bring him back to shore for treatment. He didn’t make it back alive.
He saw another get badly burned on a vessel after a fire ignited onboard. Another colleague got caught by a propeller. Neither survived and the families have not received proper compensation, he says.
These are just a few examples of the alleged widespread abuse and neglect linked to Chinese fishing vessels operating off Ghanaian shores. There are so many abuses besides these.
The UK-based Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) says at least 90% of the industrial trawlers operating in Ghana are owned by Chinese corporations, in contravention of Ghanaian laws on the ownership of vessels fishing under the local flag. A substantial proportion of these vessels have engaged in illegal practices, EJF says.
All 36 crew members interviewed by EJF had been forced to work more than 14 hours a day and received inadequate food.94% had received inadequate medicine or witnessed verbal abuse. 86% reported inadequate living conditions. 81% had witnessed physical abuse. 75% had seen serious injury at sea.
In response, China’s embassy says it is a “responsible fishing country”. “We have always worked with other members of the international community to crack down on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and have done a lot in effectively combating illegal fishing,” its press office tells so.