Global wildlife decline driving slave labor, organized crime

Broadly re-visioning the reasons for wildlife protection is essential. Those of us who purchased fish from  international fleets that poached Somali waters are also responsible for Somali piracy.

Global decline of wildlife populations is driving increases in violent conflicts, organized crime and child labor around the world, according to a experts. Researchers call for biologists to join forces with experts such as economists, political scientists, criminologists, public health officials and international development specialists to collectively tackle a complex challenge.

"This paper is about recognizing wildlife decline as a source of social conflict rather than a symptom,"...  "Billions of people rely directly and indirectly on wild sources of meat for income and sustenance, and this resource is declining. It's not surprising that the loss of this critical piece of human livelihoods has huge social consequences. Yet, both conservation and political science have generally overlooked these fundamental connections."

Fewer animals to hunt and less fish to catch demand increasingly greater effort to harvest. Laborers -- many of whom are children -- are often sold to fishing boats and forced to work 18-20 hour days at sea for years without pay.

"Impoverished families are relying upon these resources for their livelihoods, so we can't apply economic models that prescribe increases in prices or reduced demand as supplies become scarce," said Brashares. "Instead, as more labor is needed to capture scarce wild animals and fish, hunters and fishers use children as a source of cheap labor. Hundreds of thousands of impoverished families are selling their kids to work in harsh conditions."

The authors connected the rise of piracy and maritime violence in Somalia to battles over fishing rights. What began as an effort to repel foreign vessels illegally trawling through Somali waters escalated into hijacking fishing -- and then non-fishing -- vessels for ransom.

"Surprisingly few people recognize that competition for fish stocks led to the birth of Somali piracy," ... [emphasis mine]

Tags: Somali piracy, organized crime, slavery, wildlife declline

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