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Vatican Secretary of State censures slavery in fishing industry

Workers aboard trawlers are victims of a veritable slavery system, says Cardinal Pietro Parolin

November 23, 2016

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Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, has condemned slave-like and degrading conditions endured by many workers in the international fishing industry.

"Workers aboard fishing vessels are essentially isolated for long periods, deprived not only of contractual guarantees, but also of the most basic fundamental rights," said Cardinal Pietro Parolin during a visit to the Rome headquarters of the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organisation on World Fisheries Day, reported Vatican Radio.

"Fishing vessels, particularly those involved in deep-sea fishing, have an ever-increasing capability to stay at sea for long periods of time, even up to several years," the cardinal said.

"Rather than regularly docking, these vessels can 'transship' caught fish and fuel via smaller vessels," he said.

"For the crews it means living in degrading conditions and in confined spaces, in circumstances that are tantamount to detention, with their documents confiscated and, in only a few cases, returned after long periods of forced and underpaid labor," he added.

"We are, in essence, faced with persons deprived of their identity, with low wages and who are unable to rebuild their lives if let free. They are victims of a veritable slavery system."

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