Archive for » February 10th, 2012«

Auctioneer to launch new boat sale service

Friday, February 10, 2012
1:08 PM

AN auctioneer in Suffolk is aiming to provide yacht, cruiser and power boat owners with a fast and secure way of realising the value of their vessels.

Goldings Nautical, the idea of Tim Golding, who is based in Ipswich, is to hold the first in what is planned to be a regular series of auctions for boats located within the UK on May 16.

Mr Golding said the aim was to provide boat owners wishing to sell with a swift but safe alternative to waiting for a buyer, often over a lengthy period while still having to pay storage and insurance costs .

“An auction is the best way to realise the value of a boat quickly,” he says. “We are encouraging bids from both home and abroad for boats – power and sail – lying anywhere in the UK.”

The auctions are being supported by the boat sales website but Mr Golding stresses that his service is a live saleroom facility, not an online auction.

“Buyers unable to attend can submit written bids or bid by telephone by prior arrangement with the auction house,” he adds.

The May 16 auction is being held at Wherstead Park, near Ipswich, starting at 10.45am. The closing date for entries is April 5 and all the vessels listed will be available to view on set days before the auction.

Future sale dates include July 25, October 10 and December 12.


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    Game warden cases: Texas’ first game law, and latest lawbreakers, including more Facebook follies

    In a recent piece on the sobering status of Texas’ bobwhite quail, I mentioned the state’s first game law was aimed at offering some protection for what many consider North America’s finest upland game bird.

    I thought it might be interesting for folks to see that 1859 law, and consider how unprecedented it was. Click on either image for a closer look.

    Prior to passage of the Galveston quail law, and for decades after, there were few if any legal restrictions on taking fish or game in Texas. No closed seasons. No bag limits. And no one ever thought twice about it.

    I can imagine most Texans in 1859 saw that law in the same light as Texans today would view a law that, say, prohibited collecting and using rainwater.

    It was decades before the concept of managing publicly owned resources such as fish and wildlife through regulating harvest was accepted by most people as a necessary and proper and ultimately universally beneficial role of government.

    And it was even longer before law enforcement and, more crucially, the courts, took wildlife and fish laws seriously.

     Note that the fine for someone found guilty of illegally taking a quail under the 1859 law was $10 per quail. That $10 in 1859 equates to about $225 in 2012.

    But odds are pretty good no one was ever cited, much less fined under that law. There was nothing approximating a Texas game warden, back then. And Texas courts even into the 1930s (and beyond, in some regions of the state) often ignored or tossed fish and game cases.

    That’s certainly not the case, now, as this week’s sampling of recent cases worked by Texas game wardens illustrates.

    •  Newton County Wardens Ellis Powell, Brian Srba, Landon Spacek, Bradley Smith and Jasper County Warden Morgan Inman executed a search warrant Jan. 21 on a 24-year-old Louisiana resident living in Newton County.

    The warrant was a result of a four-month investigation on the subject, with warrants also being served on the subject’s Facebook account for e-mails and photos.

    As the interview was taking place, Louisiana game wardens were interviewing subjects implicated from his Facebook account.

    The subject admitted to killing eight deer over the past few months and implicated several other subjects with numerous deer kills.

    None of the four main subjects have had a hunting license since 2004, and none of the deer were taken in daylight hours during this time.

    Numerous charges filed with more interviews with other subjects pending.

    One of the poaching ring suspects explained the “rules of the hunt”:

    1. Never take a girlfriend.
    2. Never hunt from a vehicle on a paved road.
    3. If a kill is made, don’t return for two weeks.
    4. Find entry and exit points.
    5. Place spotters with radios at these points to watch for game warden or landowner.

    (Editor’s note: Rule No. 6 should be: “Don’t post your illegal acts on Facebook.”)

    •  Red River County Game Wardens Benny Richards and Daniel Roraback on Jan. 22 approached a suspect to interview him concerning the shooting of an illegal deer.  The suspect bolted, leading wardens on a foot pursuit along the banks of the Red River. Warden Richards tackled the suspect, who then attempted to take Warden Richards’ weapon.

    While Warden Richards was trying to handcuff the suspect, Warden Roraback used his pepper spray in an attempt to stop the suspect from fighting.

    As the wardens were trying to subdue the suspect, his pit bull dog was attacking both Wardens Richards and Roraback.

    The suspect was finally detained and arrested. 

    Charges pending.

    (Editor’s note: The report didn’t mention what happened to the pit bull.) 

    •  Cameron County Game Wardens Libby Balusek and Santana Torres patrolled the Gulf of Mexico Jan. 5 aboard the patrol Vessel Whatley, checking incoming gulf shrimp and recreational fishing boats.

    Melinda Dunks of TPWD’s coastal fisheries was aboard the Research Vessel Kemp and stated that she had seen a bay boat heading towards a production platform just outside state waters.

    After making contact with the recreational boat as it entered the jetties, wardens determined the three individuals on board had, indeed, been fishing in federal waters where red snapper season is closed.

    They had 19 red snapper on board (14 of which were undersize), as well as 2 undersize gag grouper.

    The owner of the boat was adamant that the undersize red snapper was really “lane snapper,” even though they were lacking the very distinctive yellow stripes.

    Wardens issued a total of eight tickets for over bag limit of red snapper, possession of undersize red snapper, and possession of undersize gag grouper.

    Cases and civil restitution pending.

    • Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens participated Jan. 20 in a search warrant at a Dallas-area meat packing company.

    The company had been observed discharging waste consisting of pig blood and ammonia into Cedar Creek in Dallas.

    During a pre-warrant investigation phase, samples were taken and analyzed at the TPWD laboratory and found to contain toxic levels of disinfectants and ammonia as well as blood.

    Because the evidence that needed to be gathered was varied, the search warrant was a multi-agency effort.

    TPWD contributed law enforcement that provided security, gathered document evidence and did suspect interviews as well as providing a scientist who t took samples and transported them to the lab.

    Other agencies included TCEQ, Dallas County Health Department, EPA-CID and City of Dallas Waste Water.

    An analysis of the suspect company’s discharge lines was necessary in addition to the sampling, interviews, and document search.

    Agents unearthed at least one covert line leading to Cedar Creek.

    The 22-hour search produced a great deal of evidence which is being organized, evaluated and analyzed so the appropriate charges can be levied against the appropriate suspects.

    • Grayson County Game Warden Michael Hummert was patrolling Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge about 8:15 p.m., Jan. 20, when he saw a suspicious vehicle parked on an oil field road near a wheat field.

    The vehicle was using its headlights to illuminate several deer standing in the field.

    Warden Hummert then watched as the passenger of the vehicle retrieved a compound bow from the back seat and attempted to stalk up toward the deer using the nearby brush line as cover.

    As the subject approached the deer, they spooked and headed farther into the field.

    The subject then returned to the vehicle.

    Apparently, the two occupants of the vehicle thought they would have better luck using their car as a weapon. Warden Hummert watched as the vehicle drove through the wheat field at a high rate of speed while the driver swerved at deer attempting to hit them with his car.

    Having no luck, the subjects left the area and pulled onto a nearby county road.

    Warden Hummert stopped the vehicle, and the two occupants immediately said they knew they were in trouble.

    Both subjects were arrested and placed in the Grayson County Jail on charges of hunting deer at night (Class A misdemeanor) and hunting deer with the aid of a light (Class A misdemeanor).

      Cases pending.

    •  Freestone County Game Warden John Thorne received a call Jan. 12 about a duck hanging in a power line in a residential area just outside Corsicana.

    Warden Thorne found the gadwall drake with one end of a long piece of fishing line wrapped around his leg and the other end tangled in the power line.

    With assistance from the county commissioner and the power company, the duck was released without incident.

    •  Kleberg County Game Warden Jason McFall, while patrolling for water safety violations in Baffin Bay on Jan. 14, stopped a boat and found indicators of possible drug smuggling.

     With the help of other game wardens, the investigation led to discovery of 200 pounds of marijuana hidden in the boat’s hull.

    Game wardens seized two boats, two trucks and boat trailers.

    Additional federal and local agencies are helping with the investigation.

    Subjects were placed under arrest and jailed.

     Cases pending.

    • Gillespie County Warden Scott Krueger was contacted the final week of January by a local rancher regarding trespassers who had been digging for Indian artifacts on his Kimble County ranch.

    Krueger, his partner Warden Sam Harris, and Kimble County Warden Lee Morrison set up a trail camera and began surveillance of the area.

    Krueger set up observation on the area and waited until 4 a.m. Saturday, January 28, then returned early that afternoon to continue surveillance.

    As Warden Krueger quietly walked his way to the site, he saw four subjects actively digging.

    He backed off and called Warden Morrison for assistance.

    The two wardens walked in from opposite directions and took the four into custody without incident.

    When Warden Krueger drove into the ranch to transport everyone out, he saw another subject running through the brush.

    Krueger apprehended the subject, who turned out to be the group’s lookout, after a short foot chase.

    Of the five, the three adults were convicted felons and a juvenile had recently been released from juvenile detention and was on probation.

    The five told the wardens their plan was to split up and run if confronted, “but ya’ll were good and got on us before we could even think about running.”

    The four adults were booked into Kimble County Jail and the juvenile was released to his mother.

    •  Just before midnight, Jan, 27, Leon County Game Warden Oscar Henson responded to a four-wheeler complaint on a county road.

    Warden Henson was unable to locate the ATVs on the road but did notice a small camp fire and loud music coming from a camp just off the roadway.

    Warden Henson along with a Leon County deputy checked with the camp occupants and found a Polaris four-wheeler with a broken key switch.

    One man claimed it was his and that he bought it from a man on the side of the road. Later, he changed his story, saying he bought it on eBay.

    Wardens ran the four-wheeler’s VIN number, and it came back as having been stolen in 2010.

    The man finally confessed he bought the vehicle it at a flea market.

     The ATV was seized and the man claiming ownership was taken into custody.

    Cases pending.

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    A boatload of boats at this show

    It’s a credit to Joe O’Neal, manager of the 2012 New England Boat Show, that he doesn’t flinch when you bring up the old adage: “A boat is a hole in the water that you pour your money into.”

    “I think some people still think that,” says the Charlestown resident and owner of a 34-foot Saber power boat, speaking on the phone from his Quincy office. “That was really true for people who owned older boats that you constantly had to fix and update. But today’s boats are so reliable that there are very few mechanical issues.”

    If fact, when people attend this year’s boat show, sponsored by Progressive Insurance and running Feb. 11-19 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, first-time visitors might be struck by a surprising little phenomenon: affordability.

    Sure, at the show, the top boat (fit for Thurston Howell III and Lovey, no doubt) will top out at about $1 million, but O’Neal says visitors will also find 8-foot sailboats starting at about $3,000, and aluminum skiffs for around $4,000. And the financial blow can be further blunted by financing programs that allow buyers to walk away with a boat, motor and trailer for as little as $150 a month.

    Those numbers sound good, especially in this economy. Asked if boats are a tough sell these days, O’Neal says, “Clearly the economy has impacted boat sales, but the core group of boaters has continued to boat and purchase boats. And [the boat market] has been coming back recently. It’s a slow process, but we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”

    Maybe that’s why this year’s boat show has grown by 100,000 square feet — a 40 percent boost in exhibit space that makes room for more than 700 boats of all shapes and sizes, including wave-runners.

    But the growth of this show also has lots to do with the region. New Englanders love to hit the water.

    “Boating in New England is extremely popular,” says O’Neal. “There’s all that coastline from Rhode Island to the tip of Maine. And then you have all the interior lakes. The popularity of this show is just a reflection of the popularity of boating.”

    The event is also increasingly family-friendly.

    “It used to be that the boats were enough to draw in the crowd,” says O’Neal, describing the boat show business. “But that’s changed. That’s not enough anymore. People are looking for more entertainment.”

    And he thinks they’ll find it at this boat show, where a 20-foot indoor pool provides the opportunity for people to compete in a remote-controlled powerboat docking challenge and a remote-controlled sailing contest. Teenage sailing adventurer Abby Sunderland will also be on hand to talk about her harrowing attempt to be, at the age of 16, the youngest person ever to circumnavigate the globe.

    When you hear how that story ended, you might want to look into the cost of insuring your boat. But O’Neal says buyers will be surprised by the low price: often about $150 year.

    O’Neal knows that many of the people who visit the exhibit will be diehards, old-timers, salty veterans, perhaps looking for a new boat, or just out to get a GPS or a new sail. But he’s really excited about the prospect of attracting new faces.

    “Surveys show that at every show, we get new people,” he says. “Those are the people we want. We want new boat people.”



    2012 New England Boat Show

    WHEN: Feb. 11-19

    WHERE: Boston Convention Exhibition Center

    ADMISSION: $14 adults (16 and older); kids free



    Boat Show tips

    Haggle: It’s like buying a new car. “All dealers negotiate,” says Joe O’Neal, manager of the 2012 New England Boat Show. “And be aware that many manufacturers have incentives that are good only during the show.”

    Mull: Gather up information on the cost of everything, and go home and think about it. Then return – that’s why the exhibit runs for nine days.

    Browse: “Take the time to walk through the show and see everything,” says O’Neal. “You might think you want one type of boat, but maybe you’ll realize that it doesn’t fit your lifestyle.”

    Take a spin: “Some people want to take a test drive,” says O’Neal. “It’s possible a manufacturer will give you a sea trial, right after the show.”


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    Boat shows will dispatch thoughts of winter


    What promises to be a seasonably cold February weekend should not temper the enthusiasm of the boating crowd in the area, because they will be presented with multiple opportunities to get the 2012 season started — and do so in the warmth of the indoors.

    “This is the ideal time to get the process going,” said Jim Sommers, a former commander of the Toledo Power Squadron who is active in the group’s educational endeavors.

    “The real ‘on the water’ opportunity will be here before you know it, so it’s important now to think about what you need to do, be prepared, and have a good plan before you take that cover off the boat you already own, or before you go out and buy your first boat.”

    The Detroit Boat Show opens Saturday for a nine-day run at the downtown Cobo Center. Exhibit space has been sold out and show manager John Ropp expects robust crowds and an improving economy to relieve a “pent-up demand” for watercraft.

    Bass Pro Shops in Rossford opens its boat show Friday and over the next 10 days the outdoors megastore will host a series of free boating and fishing seminars, including sessions on proper boat-towing methods and how to use the latest marine electronic devices.

    “We think the timing is perfect,” said Robert Buchanan, general manager at Bass Pro. “February gives folks a great opportunity to shop for a boat, learn about boating, or just get out of the house and see what kinds of boats are out there. It reminds everyone that better weather and the boating season are not too far off.”

    The Bass Pro boat show features a variety of recreational, pontoon, and fishing boats, special discounts, gift card bonuses, and appearances by professional walleye fisherman Gary Parsons Friday and Saturday.

    The Huron Valley Sportfishing Club is sponsoring the Michigan-Ohio Sportfishing Expo at the MBT Expo Center at the Monroe County Fairgrounds on Saturday and Sunday. Boats will be a part of the affair, with Cabela’s in Dundee and Happy Days Boating from Port Clinton supplying the watercraft that will be on display.

    The Columbus Sports, Vacation Boat Show opened Thursday for a four-day run at the Ohio Expo Center, while the Spring Boating Expo runs March 15-18 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Mich. The Catawba Island Club will host its on-site annual boat show from May 4-6 in Port Clinton.

    Many of the boating vendors said they expect to experience brisk sales of watercraft over the next couple of months, with the boat shows often supplying close to half of their customer connections for the year.

    But whether folks are shopping for an aluminum jon boat or a luxurious cruiser, or just looking to replace, upgrade or accessorize with bilge pumps, trim tabs, navigational lights, or dock bumpers, Sommers stressed that the educational aspect of boating should not be overlooked.

    “The real joy of boating starts with a good understanding of the requirements, the rules, and the proper safety equipment,” he said.

    “Anyone new to the boating field needs to be taking a safety course now, before they get out on the water. Even current owners and experienced boaters can benefit a lot from taking seminars or refresher courses. You want your boat ready mechanically, and you want to make sure you’ve been educated in safety and proper navigation.”

    Also found under the February outdoors umbrella is the Camp Travel RV Show at the SeaGate Centre Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Show hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

    Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: or 419-724-6068.

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    Michigan boating business rides wave to recovery

    After a six-year downturn, the boating industry is on the rise in the Great Lakes State.

    The Detroit Boat Show at Cobo Center is riding this wave of tentative recovery, boasting more boats, brands and leased exhibit space than in prior years when it opens Saturday, said boat show spokeswoman Nicki Polan.

    Sales of luxury yachts, refurbished boats, dock space and maintenance services are increasing, Metro Detroit businesses say. Boat repossessions are diminishing, a local company reports. And yacht club membership is recovering, according to two local clubs.

    But boat registrations still need a life preserver. Michigan boat registrations have fallen for seven consecutive years through January, according to the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office. The result is fewer watercraft on the lakes.

    Still, owners are investing more money in the boats they already own, said Mike Tusa, owner of Mike’s Marine Supply in St. Clair Shores. The business gains are due to an improving automotive industry and a bump in consumer confidence, he said.

    “Since the first of the year, we have sold numerous electronics packages to people who recently purchased new boats or have decided to upgrade equipment on their current boats,” Tusa said.

    Scott Gregory II has seen an upswing in business at his Detroit-based detailing service, Scotty G.’s Mobile Detail Service. Business nearly ground to a halt last winter, but “this year, I’m having a hard time keeping up.”

    “I think things are turning around slowly,” he said. “I think we’re through the hardest part of the recession.”

    Sales of luxury yachts are projected to increase more than 7 percent nationwide, and sales of powerboats 15 feet or longer have risen above the February 2006 level for the first time in almost six years, according to the Michigan Boating Industries Association.

    That’s good news for Michigan, which ranked third in the nation behind Florida and Minnesota for the number of boat registrations in 2010, the latest year available, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

    The nine-day Detroit Boat Show reflects the industry’s comeback by featuring three times as many boats 30 feet or more in length than last year, Polan said. The star is a 45-foot Sea Ray that measures 3 feet longer than 2011’s largest boat.

    Sales of exhibit space are up 24 percent over last year as dealers expand their presence, she said.

    “Many dealers attribute up to 50 percent of their annual sales due to the sales and leads generated during the nine days at Cobo,” Polan said. “So if dealers are buying more space, then people must be buying boats.”

    A renewed interest in boating is evident at the Detroit Yacht Club, where membership is on an upswing, said membership director Jack Lyon.

    The Belle Isle club lost about 30 percent of its membership from 2007 to 2009, but “in the past two years, and more so this past year, we have gained almost 20 percent back,” Lyon said.

    Membership this year is expected to rise to levels seen before 2007, he said.

    The Jefferson Yacht Club is experiencing a similar membership resurgence with a 23 percent increase from last February, said Kathy Nucci, a club membership director.

    But some Michiganians remain reluctant to spend money on registering their boats. There has been a 4.4 percent drop from January 2005 to this January in the number of registered watercraft, which are charged from $5 to $448 a year, depending on their length and use.

    As a result, state revenue from registrations has fallen 9.4 percent to $9.5 million in the 2011 fiscal year from six years ago.

    Other indicators are producing optimism. Boat repossessions began to taper last April after reaching all-time highs the four years prior, said Jeff Henderson, owner of Harrison Marine Inc., which sells repossessed boats in Harrison Township.

    “We’re not as busy as we used to be,” Henderson said. “For a few years, we were just busting butt trying to keep up with it all.”

    An especially bright sector is the market for refurbished boats, said Scott Gregory, owner of Gregory Boat Co. in Detroit; he is Scott Gregory II’s father.

    New boats “aren’t selling like they used to,” Gregory said. “People can’t afford them.”

    Providing refurbished boats at a fraction of their original cost, “we’ve created a new market for people who wouldn’t be in the industry,” Gregory said.

    “There’s some great old boats that need new engines, and if you double the fuel economy, they’re marketable,” he said.

    Sales of brokered boats have increased during the last two years, Gregory said. This year, there is a waiting list for his other main business, winter storage.

    “The number of boats on the lake is down — no question about it — but our company seems to be maintaining a certain level.”

    There is cause for continued optimism, Gregory said. He anticipates more companies moving into Detroit and manufacturing firms into the state.

    (313) 222-2575

    Detroit Boat Show

    When: Saturday through Feb. 19
    Where: Cobo Center, 1 Washington Blvd., Detroit
    Cost: Adults $12; ages 12 and younger get in free with adult admission. Monday: ages 65 and older get in free; Tuesday: women get in free; Wednesday: free admission with donation of five cans of food from 3-6 p.m.; Thursday: $6 tickets from 3-6 p.m. Military, firefighters and law enforcement officers admitted free daily with proper identification.
    Hours: Friday and Saturdays: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sundays: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Monday-Thursday: 3-9 p.m.

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    Discover Boating adds funding from accessory manufacturers

    Discover Boating adds funding from accessory manufacturers

    Posted on 09 February 2012

    Attention: open in a new window.Print

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    North American marine accessory manufacturers will soon join boat and engine manufacturers in funding the Discover Boating marketing campaign.

    A voluntary funding model for Discover Boating contributions for accessory manufacturers was unanimously approved by the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s Accessory Manufacturers Division Board of Directors at the International Boatbuilders’ Exhibition Conference.

    The volunteer-based model, which goes into effect in March, is a suggested fee of one-tenth of 1 percent of North American marine sales or a fee that is equal to the current year NMMA membership commitment.

    “Every business with a stake in recreational boating benefits from Discover Boating — and accessory manufacturers stand to gain the most immediate benefit from increased boating participation,” Greg Lentine, chairman of the NMMA’s Accessory Manufacturers Division and president of NorCross Marine Products, said in a statement. “Aftermarket accessory sales correlate directly with boat ownership. Now, with a funding model in place, we’re solidifying our commitment to the industry’s effort to increase participation.”

    Accessory manufacturers that contribute the full, outlined accessory funding model fee will have a premium posting on a new accessory search section on, launching this spring.

    Accessory manufacturers that are NMMA members will receive an invoice during the first week of March. To receive a posting on the new section, contributions must be received by July 31.

    More funding!

    Where is the current funding that my manu collect for Discover Boating. I have not seen anything in the way of promotion in two years from this charade.

    Just another fleecing of the sheep

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    100 Escape From Traffickers

    At least 100 Cambodians have escaped from forced labor conditions on Thai fishing boats over the past year, according to rights groups, highlighting an increasing and dangerous trend in human trafficking in the Southeast Asian region.

    All of them were found in Indonesia, where the boats linked to Thai human trafficking syndicates usually anchor at a fishing port on eastern Ambon island.

    Ninety-three of the Cambodians have been repatriated home.

    Mom Sok Char of Cambodia-based nongovernmental organization Legal Support for Children and Women (LSCW) said that his organization had received a number of telephone calls over the last year from Cambodian nationals seeking help in Indonesia after escaping from the fishing vessels.

    “Since [the beginning of] 2011 there have been at least 100 victims rescued from Thai fishing boats,” he said.

    Some of them had swam to shore in Ambon after jumping from their boats under the cover of darkness while others were rescued in raids on the high seas by Indonesian naval vessels on the lookout for boats involved in illegal fishing.

    Mom Sok Char said that Thai boats fishing legally and illegally off Indonesian waters commonly unload their catch for processing at Ambon island, though they rarely dock at the island in order to prevent forced laborers from escaping. Vessels from the shore meet the boats at sea to ferry the fish back to land.

    “This is a vicious cycle—each time the previous victims escape, the captors receive new victims,” he said, adding that not only Cambodians, but Lao and Burmese nationals had also fallen prey to human traffickers who operate the boats.

    Group of 14

    Mom Sok Char said that LSCW’s representative in Indonesia had been contacted by the most recent group of 14 victims who had escaped between December 2011 and January 2012.

    His organization provided the funding to repatriate seven of them to Cambodia on Tuesday and plans to send the remaining seven men home next week.

    The repatriated seven are now back with their families, while LSCW is seeking the trafficking ring leaders who had lured the men to Thailand with the promise of work before selling them to boat captains.

    “The victims said some of them had worked in the boats for between one and six years. They said they were forced to work 24 hours non-stop without pay,” Mom Sok char said. “This is modern slavery.”

    He said that some of the victims told him when the workers were sick their captors had simply dumped them into the sea.

    Trafficking practices

    Chris Lom, spokesman for the Geneva-based International Organization for Migration (IOM) told RFA in an interview that the organization’s Indonesian office repatriated 63 victims trafficked for work on Thai fishing boats in December 2011.

    The group had escaped from their Thai captors when their boats were forced to dock on Ambon island.

    Lom said that slavery in Thailand is on the rise and is cause for concern.

    “What happens is they sign on to Thai fishing boats and then find themselves in very exploitative situations. Frequently, an agent will sell them to a Thai captain,” he said.

    He added that the men are most frequently trafficked while aboard a vessel on the Andaman Sea off Thailand’s southern Ranong province, or on the Gulf of Thailand.

    “Once they are on the boats, it is very difficult for them to escape. They frequently go unpaid and are often abused by the Thai captains,” he said.

    “They can also remain at sea for a very long time—even several years—because Thai fishing boats commonly fish throughout the region.”

    Lom said the fishing boats transfer and receive supplies from other boats, making it difficult for trafficking victims to escape.

    Navy intercept

    Sometimes the victims are lucky enough to be rescued by the Indonesian navy as they intercept boats fishing illegally in Indonesian waters, leading to a confiscation of the vessel.

    “In these circumstances, if the crews can contact the IOM or local NGOs to alert them that they were exploited in a trafficking situation, then we can sometimes help to repatriate them,” he said.

    He said a very large number of young and uneducated Cambodian men end up on Thai fishing boats after becoming the victims of human trafficking and called on the Cambodian government to raise awareness of the issue.

    The U.S. State Department last year ranked Cambodia a Tier 2 country in its 2011 Trafficking in Persons report, saying the government had failed to make progress in prosecuting human traffickers and protecting trafficking victims.

    “Corruption at all levels continued to impede progress in combating trafficking and fostering an enabling environment for trafficking,” the report said.

    About 200,000 to 450,000 people are trafficked annually in the Greater Mekong sub-region, which includes southern China, Laos, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, the countries joined by the Mekong River, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

    Reported by Samean Yun for RFA’s Khmer service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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    Boater fined for sailing too close to a whale

    A Melbourne man has been fined for taking a boat too close to a whale off the coast of the Mornington Peninsula.

    A court fined the 41-year- old $2,500 for steering the boat within 200 metres of the whale near Safety Beach in August last year.

    Adriano Mazzini of Eltham pleaded guilty in the Dromana Magistrates’ Court to a charge of approaching within the prescribed distance and a second charge of failing to avoid sudden changes in speed or direction while operating a vessel within the caution zone of a whale.

    Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) wildlife officer, Melanie Plummer, says it is important to remember that marine mammals are protected under law, and it is illegal to interfere with them.

    “This fine sends a strong message to anyone who operates boats and jet skis on Port Phillip Bay that they need be aware of the regulations that have been put in place to protect our seals, dolphins and whales,” she said.

    She says recreational boaters must remain 200 metres from whales and 100 metres from dolphins, except if approached.

    High impact vessels like jet skis must remain 300 metres away from whales and dolphins.

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