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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Muroami : Child Exploitation and Murder

Muro-ami fishing trawlers, mostly unseaworthy, stay out at sea for up to ten months. They roam the seas and drop anchor in areas of coral reefs and atolls. The stinking, unsanitary, and cramped quarters are often packed with as many as 400 to 500 adult crew and little boys as young as 7 years old.

The net is cast anywhere between 7 and 10 times a day, with the children working from 6am to 5pm. The harsh adult crew would whip and lash at the kids if the nets didn’t produce fifty to seventy big containers of fish in every dive. In some occasions, the boys are made to stand under the sun for hours as punishment. When these fishing trawlers encounter Navy patrols out at sea, the children are confined and hidden in the engine room for days. The kids are made to work even on days that they are ill.
The children divers, usually on a ten-month contract, are promised to be paid at the end of the contract. Their food budget on board, however, is deducted from their salary of 20 pesos a day, even if food is extremely limited on most days. The kids and their families find out after the ten-month contract, when the trawler comes back to the island to discharge the kids, that they have no payment left. 
In 1986, Muroami fishing was banned in the Philippines after a national outcry when bodies of 100 children divers, unable to escape from the closing net, came up with the catch. This child exploitation and environmental degradation, let’s hope the ban actually works and truly eradicates it, not just mitigates it.

1 comment:

  1. Such exploitation of children is terrible. Lucky Muroami fishing has been banned.


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