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Maritime News

10 arrests linked to slave investigation Indonesia threatens to sink Thai ship

He Thai captain of a seized cargo ship carrying an estimated $2 million worth of seafood has been arrested in Indonesia on suspicion of illegal fishing, in the latest development linked to an Associated Press investigation that uncovered a slave island earlier this year. At least one other crew member is still under scrutiny.

The massive Thai-owned Silver Sea 2 was first identified by AP in July through a high-resolution photo taken from space, showing slave-caught fish being loaded onto the refrigerated vessel in Papua New Guinea’s waters. The AP then tracked the ship through its satellite beacon and informed Indonesian authorities when it crossed into their waters on its way home to Thailand.

Friday’s arrest is one of 10 made in Indonesia and Thailand since the investigation tied the catch of migrant workers forced to fish to the supply chains of major United State food sellers and pet food companies six months ago. As a result, more than 2,000 men from Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos have been identified or sent home, a multi-million dollar Thai-Indonesian fishing business has been shut down, class action lawsuits have been filed and new laws have been introduced.

Touring the Silver Sea 2 on Friday, Indonesian Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said she believed the frozen fish filling up its holds came from eastern Indonesias Arafura Sea where foreign fishing vessels are banned. She also said authorities are looking further into evidence that suggests the ship may be linked to the human trafficking ring described by AP. The Silver Sea 2 is accused of receiving illegally-caught fish at sea and turning off its satellite beacon, and the remaining 16 crew members will be deported.

Pudjiastuti said she hoped anyone found guilty would face harsh punishment as a deterrent, and the vessel may be destroyed. Indonesia has already blown up dozens of smaller foreign boats accused of illegal fishing. The 2285-ton ship is now at a naval base in Sabang in the country’s far northwestern tip.

If the court decides it should be confiscated then we will sink it she said.

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