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I've had friends who owned trawlers. I got to know them when they cashed in their
fishing licences and switched to dive boats. Their behaviour was always impeccable.
Sadly, the same cannot be said for everyone who goes to sea to catch fish. The
Department of Transport knew there was a serious problem and acted responsibly.
Girls were being raped!
I encountered two incidents in which young women took jobs on trawlers (as cooks)
and regretted it. One swam across to a boat on which I was working as a divemaster.
The other returned to my hostel in a state of distress.
And it's not just the girls who are at risk. Guys are vulnerable too ... usually in a
different way. Imagine you hear about this great fishing job . You can go to sea, get
free food and board and have a share in the profits when the catch is sold. The guy
who owns the boat said you'd have an awesome time and get rich in the process. It
sounds too good to miss. But is it?
First, there's the risk you won't be paid. Working on a trawler is not a fun job and
you'll feel more than a little upset if you find your boat had vanished into the great blue
yonder when you go to collect your money. As one guy said when booking back into
my hostel: "All I got from two weeks at sea was fish-handlers' disease and a badly cut
arm.". He was particularly vulnerable because he'd been working without a visa. That
can get you deported so there was no question of going to the police. Unscrupulous
operators know that.
Second, there's the risk you won't get along with your new mates. There are many
tales of crewmembers jumping ship or being abandoned. One poor fellow was
rescued by a friend of mine who has a cattle ranch in the northern gulf country
(Carpentaria). He found the man up a tree surrounded by dingoes. The guy could
have died of thirst or been torn to pieces by the dogs.
9 Hippy communes
Okay. You've joined a commune and people are telling you it's run by a bunch
of criminals. They are making out that it's not much different from the motorbike
gangs you've read about in the newspapers. Of course you don't believe them.
The commune is about saving the planet. You are trying to stop the rainforest
from being destroyed by developers who don't care how much damage they d o
so long as they make money. You set up road blocks and sabotage machinery.
It's not surprising the greedy arseholes are telling lies about you. All they want
is profit.
I first got to hear about the communes in the Daintree rainforest when I went to visit
friends who had built a backpacker resort there. The Daintree is on the coast, between
Cairns and Cooktown in Far North Queensland. It is an area of great environmental
significance and large parts have been declared World Heritage . I didn't doubt that