After the AP’s investigation, more than 300 have been rescued in Indonesia

April 3, 2015
Category: Uncategorized
Burmese fishermen arrive at the compound of Pusaka Benjina Resources to report themselves for departure to leave the fishing company in Benjina, Aru Islands, Indonesia, Friday, April 3, 2015. Hundreds of foreign fishermen on Friday rushed at the chance to be rescued from the isolated island where an Associated Press report revealed slavery runs rampant in the industry. Indonesian officials investigating abuses offered to take them out of concern for the men's safety. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

Burmese fishermen arrive at the compound of Pusaka Benjina Resources to report themselves for departure to leave the fishing company in Benjina, Aru Islands, Indonesia, Friday, April 3, 2015. Hundreds of foreign fishermen on Friday rushed at the chance to be rescued from the isolated island where an Associated Press report revealed slavery runs rampant in the industry. Indonesian officials investigating abuses offered to take them out of concern for the men’s safety. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

The Associated Press

Last week, The Associated Press published the results of an investigation into the global fishing industry that revealed fishermen were being enslaved in Indonesia. On Friday, the AP reported that more than 300 of those men had been rescued, Robin McDowell and Margie Mason reported for the AP.

Indonesian officials probing labor abuses told the migrant workers they were allowing them to leave for another island by boat out of concern for their safety. More than 300 fishermen emerged from nearby trawlers, villages and even the jungle to make the trip.

During the investigation, the AP found some men in a cage and later tracked shipments of the fish after those shipments left Indonesia.

In a year-long investigation, the AP talked to more than 40 current and former slaves in Benjina. The AP documented the journey of a single large shipment of slave-caught seafood from the Indonesian village, tracking it by satellite to a gritty Thai harbor. Upon its arrival, AP journalists followed trucks that loaded and drove the seafood over four nights to dozens of factories, cold storage plants and the country’s biggest fish market.

Last week, the AP’s Martha Mendoza told PRI’s “The World” that while reporting, the AP worked with The International Organization for Migration to free some of the men.

“We would not use their images or a video of them talking until we knew they were safe. So, on one hand we were tracking their seafood by satellite and actually stalking the truckloads to the processing plants. Our second line of work was to figure out how to get them to safety,” says Mendoza. “And the men featured in our story have been brought to safety.”