Between Human Trafficking and Illegal Migrants: In Search of an Effective Legal Protection for Fishermen Recruited Overseas Aboard Taiwanese Fishing Fleets

Concepts of human trafficking and contemporary forms of slavery are storming the notorious island of distant-water fisheries. Some foreign fishermen recruited overseas aboard Taiwanese fishing fleets have been reported as victims of exploitations. While a fiercer criminalization against the employers and human resources agencies is indeed necessary, there are nevertheless a considerable number of cases fallen into the grey area between human trafficking and reasonable labor standard. For instance, confiscation of passports or collective shelter under heavy surveillance arises from the responsibility charged against employers or HR agencies regarding “running-away” foreign fishermen. Becoming illegal migrant workers by abandoning their fleets seems a better solution than dealing with a human trafficker. As contradictory as the legal norms applied to the distant-water fisheries, including immigration policies, isn’t Taiwan tempting everyone to break the rules or to turn clandestine?