March 30th, 2006

Chris Keeley

rusting Chinese "ghost ships" floating off the West African coast.

Chinese "ghost ship" fishing boats rotting off of W African coast

Greenpeace has published an amazing first-person account of visits to the rusting Chinese "ghost ships" floating off the West African coast. These fishing ships are loaded, supplied and collected form at sea, without any dock-time for maintenance (or for their crews to desert). They are floating wrecks, riddled with holes, hemorrhaging fuel, rotting to the water-line, and their crews are stuck on them for years at a time.
We head for the 'graveyard' itself. The first battered ship, the Lian Run 02 has holes near the waterline. They're so big, I could reach out and put my fist through. The two crewman are cheerful enough - or maybe just happy to see new faces. They'd been waiting there a month, in the hope of getting new crew - so far, there's no sign.

Next was the crumbling 'Happiness' ship already mentioned, the Zhang Yuan Yu 15. After we wave goodbye to the lone occupant, we head towards the next two ships. They appear roped to each other - the Zhang Yuan Yu 17 and the Lian Run 16. No one answers our calls on the first ship - but I see some movement behind the bridge, a cat... I'm not sure.

We move to the second ship, where again, a bunch of friendly young guys have been sitting at anchor for two months, waiting technical help and a new crew. Their engine doesn't work, and they no safety gear or radio. They can, however, run their watermaker, for desalinating seawater. Lines of drying fish hang over the deck, but they're running out of other food, and are often forced to signal other fishing boats for help. Like everyone else, their future is uncertain.

Link (via JWZ)