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29 March 2006

Slideshow: The Chinese zombie ships of West Africa

by Pierre & Dave, onboard the Esperanza

Off the coast of West Africa lies a 'graveyard' of rusting ships, abandoned by their owners. The thing is, there's still fishermen living on board. Take a look at the photographs of this sad, strange place. Read more: Happiness: The Chinese zombie ships of West Africa »


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Thanks for these photos.. They really make me feel very sad :(

Posted by: Abri at March 29, 2006 04:10 PM

Hi Dave

How horribly sad. I am totally appaled by these pictures. How do the owners of these vessels close their eyes to sleep?? In the name of dollars, not only do they rape our seas, they abuse our people. How do we STOP this?


Posted by: Joan at March 29, 2006 04:19 PM

Heartbreaking images!
Im lost for words!

Posted by: Angel at March 29, 2006 10:00 PM

Yeah it's a good idea to censor posts on your web site. That way no other opinions get in. Nice one. Way to start the dialogue. I guess this is "malicious" huh? Pathetic.

Posted by: anon at March 30, 2006 02:56 PM

it is no use targeting the ships or the people who are working on them. we have to get to the people who own these skeletal monsters. how can we get together. it is time people stand by each other, the time has come to act. i feel helpless. i hear the voice of the earth - she is in pain, she is bleeding. we all now what happens when our wounds do not heel...

Posted by: adri at March 30, 2006 03:08 PM

Anon (what's your name?) we don't 'censor' posts to the website based on opinion - if you don't believe me, check the Talk to us page. I've checked the comments in the queue, and can only see two comments from 'anon', which I trust are both from yourself. If you posted a third, and it somehow got lost, please repost, and I'll approve it as quick as I can.

Posted by: Dave - Webbie on the Esperanza at March 30, 2006 03:20 PM

I can see this happening in the industrialized world in the not so distant future if conservative politics continues to erode environmental protection and the foundation of our civilization. Look at what is happening in France this week alone! Keep talking everyone. Don't let ignorance and apathy defeat every last living thing on the planet.

Posted by: Jen at March 30, 2006 06:19 PM

Where do you they sell the fish? Are the owners African or presumably Chinese? Would make an interesting documentary to follow and live on their ships. Are they breaking any international law? Do they have permits to fish? Its seem fundamental to target the owners to operate under mutually agreed safety, environmental and other factors.

Posted by: Robert at March 30, 2006 07:54 PM

Yip, sad but true. As a skipper for dive boats on the SA and Mozambique south coast we use to see them quite a lot. Once we even got the Mozambique authorities to go and chase them away but they didn't move. The Mozambique coast guard even tried to shoot the vessel with a bazooka but the rocket never went of! I was quite relieved as it’s not the poor souls working on these boats that’s the problem but the owners of these vessels. The African governments just don't have the resources for patrolling their coasts and keeping these boats at bay. The flip side of the coin is that taking these vessels (very unlikely) out of commission will leave these peoples without an income so there’s no quick fix to this problem.

Posted by: Braindeadbeachbum at March 31, 2006 08:11 AM

Robert, the ships are, as far as we can trace, Chinese-owned. The high-value fish is boxed up and 'laundered' through Las Palmas in the Canaries. The low-value fish are tossed into rice sacks, and sold in African ports.

Some of the trawlers have permission, some don't. Some produce permits that are 2-3 years out of date. In some cases, they're swapping names - in one case, the Lian Run 14 had no paperwork, claimed that all documentation was 2000km in Las Palmas, and had boxes labelled for 7 other trawlers, each with varying levels of legal status. So the Lian Run 14 doesn't 'exist' - and all its catch is laundered through the names of other vessels.

More here »

Posted by: Dave - Webbie on the Esperanza at March 31, 2006 12:41 PM

I understand you all in thinking it is sad. But each person lives their own life their own way. There are people who choose to do thigs that others don't like or don't understand. What brings happiness is different for each person. What seems sad to you may bring joy to them that they can feed their family, or maybe they love to be at sea. The thing I would be "sad" about is if they have no joy in what they do, but I feel that way for anyone who lives with little joy.

And as far as the shadiness of the documentation, I feel that that should be straightened out, (if it could be). But there are plenty of shady business in any part of the world.

Hope I don't offend anyone, but it bothers me when people try to tell others how to live. If someone has a problem with their life, be sympathetic, sad or helpful... whatever you can be. But don't pity the person living life their own way, even if you don't think life SHOULD be lived that way... It's called freedom.

Posted by: Regina at April 6, 2006 03:15 AM

Regina - my whole point in the arcticle was that these men aren't free - you'll see more later, when I post interviews with them. Some of them haven't seen their children in two years, don't know how much they'll get paid, or if they'll get paid at all. It's basically indentured labour. I can't class it as freedom by any stretch of the imagination.

Posted by: Dave - Webbie on the Esperanza at April 6, 2006 10:12 AM

Hi Regina,
it bothers me when people tell others how to live too. That's why it bothered me to discover that those men had been ordered to remain on the ship by the company that employs them.

It bothers me that some of them don't even know how much money they are going to earn and have to wait a year before they even get paid.

Shu Quin is not living his life his own way. He is living according to the rules of another - a company, simply because he has no choice. He told us no one would want to be on a ship like this.

Rest assured, they may have a symbol with happiness written on it on their ship, but there is no joy to be found in the zombie graveyard.

Posted by: Sara at April 6, 2006 11:25 AM

Thank you for giving the addition information. I find it heartbreaking when someone feels forced to live a life not of their choosing.

I am looking forward to hearing about these men from their point of view. It just usually souds kind of suspicious when "it's a sad life" comes from an outside person. It sounds a lot like the "I know what's good for you" syndrome. Only when it comes straight from a persons own mouth can you be sure it is how they feel.

Looking forward to hear more.

Posted by: Regina at April 9, 2006 06:50 AM

Regina - please read
Return of the zombie ships - we went on board, and they told us their stories.

Posted by: Dave - Webbie on the Esperanza at April 9, 2006 12:34 PM

And the way they live their lives is your business how? Apathy and ignorance both come in many forms and from many philosophies. The truth is that a true conservative is also very concerned with preserving the environment. I submit that any self-labeled conservative who turns a blind eye to wreckless and unnecessary pollution of the environment is, in fact, horribly confused.

If anything, this story is a testament to how well communism works just as France's continual rioting for entitlements is proof of socialism's merit.

Posted by: Chris at April 9, 2006 05:37 PM

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