‘Ghost Fleet’ Premieres at Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals

A film uncovering the modern slavery hidden in one of the largest seafood industries in the world, Ghost Fleet, makes clear the need for an industry-wide shift towards a more transparent and regulated seafood supply chain.

Making its World Premiere at Telluride Film Festival, followed by an International Premiere in Toronto, Ghost Fleet is bringing illegal fishing the widespread attention it deserves.

Shortly after the premieres, film reviewers reflected a look into, not just the captivating cinematography and storyline, but the need to address this issue in a meaningful way.

“The fearless Patima and her crew do whatever they can to locate the Thai ships that are still in operation, and which tend to sail farther and farther away from Thailand...since the waters off the mainland have been exhausted,” reviewed in The Hollywood Reporter. “The underlying power of Ghost Fleet...reveals: that slavery still exists in certain parts of the world, with only a few people trying to fight it.”

The film is reaching beyond environmental communities well versed in the implications of illegal fishing, exposing the human tragedies linked to the seafood we purchase in nearly every major grocery store, including stores in North America and Europe.

“Now, at the end of our own five-year-long line, I find...the hope of redemption. That our film will help Patima in her mission to bring these horrors to light. That our rolling cameras caught glimpses of these men’s stunning hearts. And that their courage ignites our own,” Ghost Fleet Director and Producer Shannon Service stated.

Achieving change is going to take all of us. This is a complicated problem that will only be solved with changes up and down the supply chain, from how migrant laborers are recruited to how consumers in the West purchase seafood to the effects of retailers who can demand increased oversight, monitoring and reporting.

“Already, Ghost Fleet is making impact by bringing NGOs, policymakers and seafood industry leaders from around the world together around tangible ways we can solve this issue,” said Ted Richane, director of engagement and impact at Vulcan Productions. “Policymakers and enforcement officials in Washington, D.C. have seen footage, and we’ve already screened the film for industry and government officials in Thailand, where collaboration is already underway.”

Backed by Paul G. Allen’s mission to protect our shared ocean – using powerful stories and imagery, alongside illegal fishing technology and government action – Ghost Fleet has just begun its journey to bring this issue to a broad audience. You can help spread the word right now by sharing.

Ocean degradation and global overfishing

Rapid industrialization and poor fisheries management has resulted in too many vessels using destructive and unsustainable fishing methods to catch far too many fish. ‘Pirate’ fishers are now pillaging the oceans, operating without licenses and fishing in protected areas. And as companies and vessel operators are pressured to continue supplying Western markets with cheap seafood, many have turned to slave labor – enforced by violence – to keep costs down.

Was your seafood caught with slave labor?

Products from slave-dependent boats have been tracked from Thailand to major grocery stores across the United States and Europe. They end up in the packaged shrimp, pet food and canned tuna that many westerners buy off the shelves. For years, retailers and major industry suppliers have been disconnected from the operations at sea and the details of their own supply chains. Some industry players have begun to take small steps to address this issue, but these efforts have been woefully insufficient relative to the problem at hand.