The Jordan Harbinger Show
856: Ian Urbina | Maritime Misdeeds on the Outlaw Ocean
The episode explores the dark world of crime on the high seas, including arms trafficking, oil smuggling, human smuggling, illicit cigarettes, poaching, toxic waste dumping, piracy, scams, fraud, slavery, and more. It highlights the challenges of enforcing laws at sea due to jurisdictional issues and lack of cooperation from countries. Labor abuses in the fishing industry are prevalent, with brutal practices and lack of accountability. The episode also delves into smuggling, piracy, illegal fishing, whales' behavior around fishing vessels, stowaways' plight, ship theft and repossession issues, stranded crew members' struggles, human trafficking risks for seafarers, environmental impact and legal disputes related to waste dumping and territorial conflicts. It sheds light on exploitation and unfair practices in the fishing industry, including slavery, fraud, unfair contracts, and poor working conditions. The episode emphasizes the role of consumers in supporting these practices by purchasing cheap seafood without considering the ethical implications.
The High Seas Black Market
The high seas are a hub for various illegal activities, including arms trafficking, oil smuggling, human smuggling, illicit cigarettes, poaching, toxic waste dumping, piracy, scams, fraud, and slavery.
Enforcing laws at sea is challenging due to jurisdictional issues, lack of cooperation from countries, and the absence of police forces on the high seas.
Labor Abuses in Fishing Industry
The fishing industry experiences labor abuses, with brutal practices and lack of accountability. Monitoring and tracking fishing vessels pose challenges.
Smuggling, Piracy, and Illegal Fishing
Smuggling, piracy, and illegal fishing thrive due to the convenience of water transportation and the underestimation of slow and inconspicuous methods used by smugglers.
Whales and Stowaways
Whales take advantage of fishing vessels as a source of food. Stowaways continue to be a problem in certain locations.
Ship Theft and Stranded Crew Members
Ship theft poses financial burdens, while stranded crew members face challenges without proper support.
Human Trafficking Risks for Seafarers
Stranded seafarers face desperate situations and human trafficking risks. Recruitment involves false promises and victims ending up in exploitative situations.
Environmental Impact and Legal Disputes
Intentional waste dumping, territorial conflicts, greenwashing in the seafood industry, and shark finning contribute to environmental impact and legal disputes.
Exploitation and Unfair Practices in Fishing Industry
The fishing industry involves slavery, fraud, unfair contracts, and poor working conditions. Consumers play a role in supporting these practices by purchasing cheap seafood.
The episode covers a wide range of illegal activities and labor abuses on the high seas. It highlights enforcement challenges, labor abuses in the fishing industry, smuggling, piracy, illegal fishing, whales' behavior, stowaways' plight, ship theft and repossession issues, stranded crew members' struggles, human trafficking risks for seafarers, environmental impact and legal disputes. It sheds light on exploitation and unfair practices in the fishing industry. Consumers play a role in supporting these practices by purchasing cheap seafood without considering the ethical implications.
- The Black Market on the High Seas
- Enforcement Challenges and Lack of Accountability
- Labor Abuses in the Fishing Industry
- Smuggling, Piracy, and Illegal Fishing
- Whales and Stowaways
- Illegal Fishing and Labor Issues
- Stowaways and Ship Repossession
- Ship Repossession and Stranded Crew Members
- Stranded Seafarers and Human Trafficking
- Environmental Impact and Legal Disputes
- Exploitation and Unfair Practices in the Fishing Industry
- Summary and Key Insights
The Black Market on the High Seas
00:00 - 06:23
- Arms trafficking, oil smuggling, human smuggling, and illicit cigarettes are all part of the black market on the high seas.
- Crime on the high seas is lawless and shocking, with activities like poaching, dumping toxic waste, piracy, scams, fraud, and slavery taking place.
- Most dark activities occur on fishing vessels that are not associated with recognizable brand names or merchant marines.
- Victims of crimes at sea are often trafficked individuals from impoverished areas far away from where the crimes occur.
Enforcement Challenges and Lack of Accountability
05:57 - 12:23
- Purple notices are ship-based red notices that identify repeat offenders engaged in illegal activities such as sanctions busting, human trafficking, illegal fishing, and murder.
- Despite purple notices being issued for certain ships involved in criminal activities at sea, there is no enforcement or checking by other countries.
- Enforcement of laws at sea is a challenge due to the absence of police forces on the high seas.
- To address crimes committed by purple list vessels requires finding a country with enough interest and influence to take action.
- Investigating crimes on ships can be challenging due to jurisdictional issues and lack of cooperation from countries.
- Culprits on ships may be difficult to identify and hold accountable, as they can use various tactics to evade justice.
Labor Abuses in the Fishing Industry
12:06 - 18:40
- There is a small but significant portion of fishing vessels that engage in brutal labor practices.
- The seafood industry benefits from the globalized nature of the supply chain, which allows for plausible deniability regarding labor conditions on fishing vessels.
- Satellite footage is expensive and not accessible to average people or organizations, making it challenging to monitor activities at sea.
- AIS transponders can be turned off by fishing vessels engaged in illegal activities, making it difficult to track their movements and cargo.
- There is a cultural and legal difference surrounding distant water fishing that allows for secrecy and lack of accountability compared to other modes of transportation.
Smuggling, Piracy, and Illegal Fishing
18:24 - 24:56
- Investigation reveals a complex international smuggling ring involving ship owners who grew up together in the same village in China.
- Sanctions busting and illegal fishing are difficult to enforce due to lack of enforcement and the convenience of water transportation.
- The best way to move black market goods is often by water, despite the presence of modern technology.
- Law enforcement often underestimates the slow and inconspicuous methods used by smugglers.
- Profits from piracy and illegal fishing are decentralized, benefiting seafood companies, Western buyers, and those involved in the supply chain.
Whales and Stowaways
24:33 - 31:09
- Killer whales and minke whales have discovered that ships dragging fishing lines are like floating diners for them.
- Ship transfers are dangerous, as one wrong move can result in death, and unhygienic conditions on some vessels can lead to infections.
- Stowaways are still a problem, particularly in certain locations like Cape Town, South Africa.
- Many stowaways in Cape Town are from Tanzania and see it as an adventure to escape their current situation.
- Some stowaways have been left on rafts by ship crews, hoping they will drift to land.
Illegal Fishing and Labor Issues
30:45 - 37:24
- Cutting off engines or dropping anchor while transferring between boats is risky
- Approximately 20% of fishing is illegal, including what ends up on American plates
- IUU (illegal, unregulated, unreported) fishing occurs in places without laws and is unsustainable
- Whistleblower issues exist in the fishing industry due to fear of blacklisting
- Fishery observers focus on fishing issues, not labor issues, and face danger in their line of work
- Onboard cameras and increased efforts by key players aim to address fishing abuses
- Cell phone footage captured a disturbing murder on a Taiwanese longliner at sea
- The captain who ordered the killings was caught and arrested, but others involved escaped punishment
Stowaways and Ship Repossession
36:59 - 43:12
- Private maritime security guards who wielded guns were never questioned or charged in a case involving a fishing company owner from Taiwan.
- Post-9/11 security measures and anti-immigration sentiments have led to higher fines for ships with stowaways onboard.
- Companies specializing in handling stowaway situations are hired by wealthier shippers to sweep ships and manage crises if someone slips through.
- Stowaways often strip their national identity to claim refugee status from a different country.
- Some ports have corrupt officials who impose hefty fines on ships, leading to the hiring of repo men to retrieve the vessels.
- Repo men initially try negotiation but resort to stealing the ship back if necessary.
Ship Repossession and Stranded Crew Members
42:53 - 49:07
- The cost of delays for container ships can range from $20,000 to $50,000 per day.
- For smaller ships, such as fishing vessels, a daily delay cost of $20,000 could be devastating.
- Boats are stolen in the US for drug trafficking purposes
- Ship theft happens globally, often off the coast of Nigeria and Somalia
- Owners abandon old ships when they become financially burdensome
- Dumping ships and disconnecting ownership is a paperwork exercise
- Crew members are left stranded without food, water, or communication
- Stranded crew members are usually close to shore
Stranded Seafarers and Human Trafficking
48:48 - 54:55
- Most cases of stranded seafarers happen when the ship's crew is unable to contact anyone on shore for guidance.
- Stranded seafarers often drop anchor a few miles from shore for safety.
- These seafarers are unable to leave the ship due to lack of proper documentation.
- A network of organizations and individuals work together to raise funds, arrange flights, and get governments involved in helping stranded seafarers.
- Desperation can lead some seafarers to attempt swimming to shore, even if they don't know how to swim, resulting in tragic drownings.
- Recruitment for sea slavery often involves false promises of well-paying jobs in other countries.
- Similar stories of human trafficking involve victims responding to job ads and ending up in exploitative situations like scam call centers or brothels.
- Karaoke bars/brothels along the border between Thailand and neighboring countries are run by trafficked migrants who are trapped there against their will.
- Men who visit these establishments unknowingly accumulate debts that are later used as leverage against them.
- Prison islands are a dark reality where victims of human trafficking are held captive under horrific conditions.
Environmental Impact and Legal Disputes
54:34 - 1:00:16
- Prison islands are used as a tactic to ensure labor doesn't run away on fishing vessels.
- The magic pipe is a hidden pipe on ships that redirects toxic sludge and waste into the ocean.
- Ships globally intentionally dump more oil than the BP and Exxon Valdez spills combined every three years.
- Whistleblowers and satellite technology help expose intentional dumping of oil at sea.
- The South China Sea is a contested area where different countries claim certain territories, leading to clashes between fishing vessels as proxy fights between nations.
- Maps are based in time, and historical precedent plays a role in legal disputes over territory.
- China is using civilian militia vessels to occupy fishing zones and create precedent.
- Seafood caught and processed locally is generally safer and more ethical.
- Greenwashing is a problem in the seafood industry, with organizations giving themselves awards for sustainability without meeting the criteria.
- Shark finning has a devastating impact on shark populations and ecosystems.
Exploitation and Unfair Practices in the Fishing Industry
59:53 - 1:06:34
- Antiquated laws limit damages for dead sailors at sea, allowing shipping companies to avoid liability.
- There are many ship scams and frauds, including insurance fraud, fuel scams, and stealing ships.
- Slavery is prevalent in the fishing industry, with slaves often being sold to another captain after being rescued by police.
- Slaves on fishing boats suffer from medical ailments due to poor conditions and lack of care.
- Shady companies involved in unfair contracts contribute to cheap seafood on our plates.
- Shady companies in the fishing industry use slave labor and unfair contracts on the open sea to provide cheap tuna and sushi.
- Consumers are complicit in supporting these practices by purchasing cheap seafood.
- The smell and conditions on fishing boats with sick people, no hygiene, and limited water are unimaginable.
- It is difficult to enjoy sushi without considering the poor working conditions of those who catch it.
Summary and Key Insights
1:06:06 - 1:12:20
- The episode covers a wide range of illegal activities and labor abuses that occur on the high seas, including arms trafficking, oil smuggling, human smuggling, illicit cigarettes, poaching, toxic waste dumping, piracy, scams, fraud, slavery, and more.
- Enforcement of laws at sea is challenging due to jurisdictional issues, lack of cooperation from countries, and the absence of police forces on the high seas.
- Labor abuses in the fishing industry are prevalent, with brutal practices, lack of accountability, and challenges in monitoring and tracking fishing vessels.
- Smuggling, piracy, and illegal fishing are facilitated by the convenience of water transportation and the underestimation of slow and inconspicuous methods used by smugglers.
- Whales take advantage of fishing vessels as a source of food, while stowaways continue to be a problem in certain locations.
- Ship theft, abandonment, and repossession pose financial burdens and leave crew members stranded without proper support.
- Stranded seafarers often face desperate situations and human trafficking risks, with recruitment involving false promises and victims ending up in exploitative situations.
- Environmental impact and legal disputes arise from intentional dumping of waste at sea, territorial conflicts, greenwashing in the seafood industry, and the devastating practice of shark finning.
- Exploitation and unfair practices in the fishing industry involve slavery, fraud, unfair contracts, and poor working conditions.
- Consumers play a role in supporting these practices by purchasing cheap seafood without considering the ethical implications.