Complaints and information from NGOs and the media about abusive treatment of the crews of Chinese ships, including burials on the high seas, sparking outrage from European fleets
• According to Julio Morón, managing director of OPAGAC, "Europe cannot continue with its eyes closed to these events and importing fish from these fleets, including those exempt from tariffs, for internal consumption by EU citizens"
• European imports of tuna loins from fleets of Southeast Asia and China have gone from representing 5% in 2012 to 53% in 2019. In total, Europe imported for domestic consumption more than 79,500 tons of tuna from these fleets that same year
Madrid - The Spanish tuna fleet grouped in OPAGAC believes that the time has come for Europe to open a debate and reflect in depth on the criteria that the EU currently establishes for imports of fishery products from fleets. Chinese, following the latest information made public, both by different NGOs and by various Asian media, about the abusive treatment of the crews of the ships of these fleets, including burials on the high seas of sailors who are allegedly victims of COVID-19 .
Chinese tuna longliner Long Xing 629
The reported events, which occurred on the Chinese ship Long Xing 629, have caused the government of Indonesia, the country of origin of the sailors, to intervene, in addition to opening a criminal investigation into the owner company (Dalian Ocean Fishing), which operates 32 more tuna vessels, has requested explanations from the Chinese authorities, who, in turn, have announced their collaboration in the open investigation1.
OPAGAC reports that these recent events have raised a wave of outrage among the European fleets that operate under strict compliance with the different regulations that regulate this fishing activity throughout the world, and with a special focus, such as the case of the Spanish fleet, in the strengthening of the social and labor rights of the crews.
OPAGAC has long been denouncing this type of abusive treatment to the crews of Chinese ships, even with cases of slavery and child exploitation, a practice in which "Europe cannot continue with its eyes closed, allowing imports of fish from these fleets for internal consumption by EU citizens ”, says its managing director, Julio Morón.
In fact, and according to a study of the Spanish fleet, European tuna imports from fleets of Southeast Asia and China - which are exempt from tariffs - have gone from representing 5% in 2012 to 53% in 2019. In total, Europe imported more than 79,500 tonnes of tuna from these fleets last year for domestic consumption. In OPAGAC's opinion, the comparative grievance with community production, which meets all legal requirements, is abysmal. According to this organization, the application of Convention 188 of the International Labor Organization (ILO), already in force, should be required of all imports to the community market, to ensure that the European consumer does not consume fish from ships with slaves on board or in which the minimum social conditions and wages set by the ILO are not respected.
►Chinese crew died on board of chinese jigger vessel at Montevideo port
According to OPAGAC, the health crisis unleashed by COVID-19 and its impact on the safety and well-being of the crews has further evidenced the situation experienced by the sailors of the Chinese fleets, often abandoned to their fate aboard the ships. "In view of this," Morón said, "the European tuna fleets have made an enormous effort to overcome innumerable obstacles and relieve our crews in safety conditions, as in the case of the Spanish one that, on May 9, managed to transfer 189 crew members to the Seychelles archipelago and repatriate another 184. Europe - Morón says - cannot be indifferent to the discrimination it practices, in this case with its own fleets, against the Chinese and, in addition, with a product they consume practically all of the European citizens ”.