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Philippine fishermen stranded at sea by pandemic: ‘We think about jumping overboard’ by ANA P. SANTOS September 09,2020   |  Source: LA Times

Anthony Medina’s daughter was 5 months old when he left the Philippines and set sail for the Indian Ocean in December 2018 on an odyssey where his livelihood collided with a pandemic that has kept him adrift at sea and exiled from home.

For more than a year, his days have been a monotonous blur of endless fishing on the Oceanstar 86, a 465-foot-long vessel with a crew of about three dozen. As long as there was seafood for their nets, including tuna, crab and squid, the crew members had to haul them in, clean and freeze them.

When their boat arrived in Singapore in March, Medina planned on catching a flight home. But he was shocked to learn that a virus outbreak had closed borders and shuttered ports, keeping him out of the Philippines and trapped on the fishing boat.

“We were prohibited from disembarking,” said Medina. “Our airline ticket was canceled.”

News about the coronavirus outbreak had upended the globe by then. But because the boat was isolated on the high seas and cut off from the rest of the world, information was limited to what senior crew members shared. The language barrier between the Chinese management on board and the Philippine, Indonesian and Burmese crew didn’t prepare Medina for a world that had ground to a standstill to prevent the

 

© 2020, Los Angeles Times

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