Early in the morning of Dec. 2, the factory trawler Oryong 501 sank into the frigid depths of the Bering Sea off of Russia’s east coast.


A  large wave hit the vessel as it hauled in a catch of pollock. Though the ship was South Korean-flagged, BBC News reports that 35 Indonesians, 13 Filipinos, 11 South Koreans and one Russian inspector were onboard at the time of the sinking; so far, 27 have been confirmed dead and 8 rescued, with the others missing. These figures indicate one of the dark underbellies of Oryong 501′s calamitous end: the use of Southeast Asian labor on factory trawlers. In August 2010, Oyang 70 sank in New Zealand waters. In a story that parallels that of Oryong 501, Kiwi newspaper The Press explained: 


“Five Indonesians, all working in brutal conditions with low or no wages, died because, as coroner Richard McElrea found in a report out yesterday, the Korean officers of the 38-year-old ship abandoned the low-wage Indonesians and Filipinos as the ship sank. “It was a matter of every man for himself.”


It should come as no surprise that Oyang 70 and Oryong 501 were owned by the same South Korean fishing company: Sajo Oryang, which has the undesirable distinction of being on Greenpeace’s International Blacklist for companies and vessels involved in illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.


Read the full story at the Alaska Dispatch>>

Want to read more about Oryong 501? Click here...

Have you listened to this article via the audio player above?

If so, send us your feedback around what we can do to improve this feature or further develop it. If not, check it out and let us know what you think via email or on social media.

A collection of stories from guest authors.

Join the Conversation