The Ghost Fleet is a documentary feature that uncovers the vast injustice of slavery in the Thai fishing industry through thrilling escape stories. Thailand supplies a large portion of America’s seafood, but Thailand’s giant fishing fleet is chronically short tens of thousands of fishermen per year. Human traffickers have stepped in, selling captives from the region to the captains for a few hundred dollars each.
Once at sea, the men may never return to land – unless they escape. These boats work the islands of Indonesia and Thailand, but also off the coasts of West Africa and Europe. Attempts to “certify” where fish come from, and who is catching it, are in the works but are currently hit-and-miss. In the meantime, as fishing stocks are depleted and commercial fishing operations toiling under tighter and tighter budgets, the need for slave labor grows. Threats and punishments do too.
Next time you order a fish in a restaurant or buy it from a freezer at your local shop, ask yourself, who caught this fish?
Official Selection for Toronto International Film Festival 2018
“Hauntingly beautiful and driven by a strong-willed heroine, GHOST FLEET takes viewers on a sweeping search of remote Indonesian islands looking for escaped men who seek out survival.” – IFC Center
About the filmmaker
Shannon Service Shannon Service is an independent reporter and filmmaker whose work has appeared in The New York Times, the BBC and The Guardian of London. She primarily focuses on crimes at sea, but her stories covered everything from the ravages of war to the intimacies of heartbreak. In 2012, she worked with Becky Palmstrom to break the story of slavery on Thai fishing boats for NPR’s Morning Edition. Shannon has won several reporting awards, including an Edward R. Murrow, and lives on a houseboat with her pet seagull, Fluffy.
Jeffrey Whaldron is a cinematographer and director. He graduated from USC’s Cinema-Television Production program and received an MFA in Cinematography from the American Film Institute Conservatory. Narrative feature films he has photographed have premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival, the Tribeca Film Festival, and South by Southwest, and he has been nominated for Best Cinematography at the Independent Spirit Awards. His passion lies in unforgettably visualizing the world’s important stories, both as a documentary director and narrative cinematographer.