Ghost Fleet film focuses on survivors of forced labor abuses in Southeast Asia's fishing sector

Ghost Fleet, a documentary film that zooms in on the stories of Southeast Asian migrant workers who were rescued from forced labor situations aboard Thai fishing boats, is already having an impact on viewers, according to Patima Tungpuchayakal, co-founder of the Labour Rights Promotion Network (LPN) in Thailand.

“On part of companies in Thailand, they have become more active in cleaning up the supply chain, and we have witnessed their excellent efforts and collaboration with LPN, particularly in preventing child slave labor and in increasing workers voice as well as providing avenues for grievances,” Tungpuchayakal said during the SeaWeb Seafood Summit, taking place in Bangkok, Thailand this week from 10 to 14 June.

Tungpuchayakal has dedicated much of her life working to eradicate the dark subject matter that the film, which was widely released on 7 June, is based on. She was responsible for leading a series of rescues between 2014 and 2016, saving nearly 3,000 fishermen who had been trapped on islands in Indonesian waters and forced to work on fishing vessels as part of slave trading operations in the region. One of the documentary’s protagonists, Tungpuchayakal said she hopes that all seafood stakeholders, including governments and consumers, hear the amplified voices of the workers at the heart of the 90-minute feature. 

“Within Thailand, we hope that the royal Thai government will be sensitized into changing the laws and regulations, and globally, we target communications with consumers so that they can be assured that the seafood they consume wasn’t caught by slave labor,” she said.

“I think the Ghost Fleet film provides very important lessons and it revealed to us that there is this slave labor in the fishing sector and I do hope that this will be the last lesson. This will be the reminder that there will not be this type of slave labor exploitation again,” Tungpuchayakal added.

LPN has started using the film as a springboard to reach consumers about the issue of forced labor in fishing, Tungpuchayakal noted, in both Thailand and around the world. 

“In terms of changes, we have started working directly with consumers, motivating consumers to ask questions directly to companies about the integrity of their supply chain for reassurance that there is no slave labor in the fishing sector, because this is not just a Thai problem – we believe that this is a global problem. Globally, workers are vulnerable to this type of exploitation,” she said. 

Ultimately, sharing the perspectives of the people who have survived in these dire circumstances is what Ghost Fleet aims to achieve – a mission that it completes, according to Tungpuchayakal. 

“The greatest news out of this movie, Ghost Fleet, is that now worker voices are heard,” she said.

Ghost Fleet is directed by Shannon Service and Jeffrey Waldron, and is produced by Vulcan Productions and Seahorse Productions.

Tungpuchayakal, who was recognized as the 2018 SeaWeb Seafood Champion for Advocacy for her work, courage, and heroism in this space, carries on with her efforts at LPN, based out of Bangkok, Thailand. 


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