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8 things that happen with almost impunity in international waters


It has as much to do with adventure and marine romance as a tuna with sneakers.

I still remember that one summer well. My family rented a boat and we went fishing along the South Carolina coast. I must have been 11 or 12 years old. And most of the time I was curled up in a corner, seasick.
It’s not hard to guess that I don’t come from any seaworthy family. To be honest, said vacation was my first and last time on the open water. I admire people who dedicate their lives entirely to the sea. And being able to be in open water for weeks, months, even years without even blinking an eyelid.

Let’s be honest, marine life is different from life on land. Because while we ‘landlubbers’ more or less adhere to strict laws and regulations, because a violation of them can be punished fairly quickly, life at sea seems to be less controlled and somehow less vulnerable. Which should not be confused with the romance of the sea and adventure stories – because the bitter reality is anything but enviable.

Regardless of the challenge of being able to cleverly control an area as large as the sea, some countries also lack the will to enforce laws more strictly, which means that crime in the open sea often goes unpunished.

This lived ‘lawlessness’ has an enormously strong influence on poverty. Because the whole world is dependent on functioning sea routes for the transport of all kinds of goods. The livelihoods of millions of people depend on it, especially those at the very bottom of this process chain. The more we treat the oceans like landfills and wasteland and pretend that none of this matters to us, the more these people are in danger. And ultimately we too. Because what happens at sea will sooner or later affect us ‘landlubbers’.

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Here are 8 things that happen almost every day in international waters that most of us are certainly not aware of:

1) Throwing garbage in bulk
I was pretty shocked to find out about this. There are ships that deliberately dump oil and rubbish in the sea, in unimaginable quantities, without ever having to face any penalties !! Said amounts are in fact far larger than the amounts we learn of in the media when any international company e.g. loses oil in an accident. It is estimated that we are talking about 70 to 210 million gallons of oil and rubbish ending up in the ocean with impunity!

This massive pollution affects everything and everyone who lives in and off the sea.

And who now thinks that we country people do not have to be aware of any guilt should read this article here. We all have to touch our own nose too.


2) air pollution
Yes, the more we try to control air pollution here in the country, the more it pollutes the air over the oceans.
Projections showed that by 2020 ships will be among the largest air polluters in Europe. And while companies on land are regularly encouraged to reduce their CO2 emissions and sometimes pay fines, ships are rarely confronted with such accusations and claims.

3) kidnappings
Yes, kidnapping is a serious problem. From crew members who are kidnapped to extort ransom, to entire ships that are captured and taken somewhere to sell both the cargo and the ship itself in parts. And the chances of success in ever getting the cargo or a ship like that back is apparently zero.

4) Inhumane working conditions
Life on a ship can be tough, but if you don’t get paid accordingly, the misery is greatest. Unfortunately, many ship owners and shipping companies get away with paying their crew next to nothing in terms of salary, as labor laws are difficult to apply and / or – once on the open sea – are difficult to enforce.

5) slavery
And as a result, slavery is not far away – if the people on board simply earn nothing and work and live under miserable conditions.

6) murder
It might sound like something out of an adventure novel, but it’s true. The fact is, nobody knows what horrible things have happened out there – and we will never know. Just as the perpetrators never have to fear being held accountable.

7) Exploitation of natural resources: The global fish population is threatened by systematic exploitation and extinction. Both illegal fishing and unsustainable fishing methods can be found in virtually every sea. We have to assume that more fish species will become extinct in the coming years than we can imagine.

8) Avoid anything that has to do with payments, simply
Not only do some ship owners avoid wage payments, some go so far as to keep their ship completely away from ports and co. And only stop at uncontrolled ports in order to avoid any taxes, fees and payments.

Conclusion: We are dependent on our oceans, be it through trade and transport routes or through fish and marine animals as food. Not to mention the sensitive ecosystems that populate our oceans and are necessary for our entire existence. We must therefore not treat our oceans like landfills. It is up to each and every one of us to live with the awareness that we not only protect the land but also the seas, treat them with respect and ensure that they stay healthy and clean.

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