8 episodes

The high seas are beyond the reach of international law – and beyond the beat of most reporters. But Pulitzer-Prize-winner and former New York Times journalist, Ian Urbina, has sailed into uncharted territories. Urbina sets out on a years-long quest to investigate murder at sea, modern slave labour, environmental crimes and quixotic adventurers. Part travelog, part true-crime thriller, this 7-part series takes listeners to places where the laws of the land no longer exist. The Outlaw Ocean is brought to you by CBC Podcasts and the LA Times and produced by The Outlaw Ocean Project.

The Outlaw Ocean The Outlaw Ocean Project

    • True Crime
    • 5.0 • 1 Rating

The high seas are beyond the reach of international law – and beyond the beat of most reporters. But Pulitzer-Prize-winner and former New York Times journalist, Ian Urbina, has sailed into uncharted territories. Urbina sets out on a years-long quest to investigate murder at sea, modern slave labour, environmental crimes and quixotic adventurers. Part travelog, part true-crime thriller, this 7-part series takes listeners to places where the laws of the land no longer exist. The Outlaw Ocean is brought to you by CBC Podcasts and the LA Times and produced by The Outlaw Ocean Project.

    Episode 1: The Murder Video

    Episode 1: The Murder Video

    Crimes like this don't often happen on land. A 10-minute slow-motion slaughter captured by a cell phone camera shows a group of unarmed men at sea, possibly 15 of them, killed one by one by a semiautomatic weapon, after which the culprits pose for celebratory selfies. The shocking footage is then made public, and yet no government is willing to investigate, much less prosecute the murderers. This episode traces a tireless journalistic investigation of a shocking video that after 8 years, finally resulted in a 26-year conviction of the ship captain who ordered the cold-blooded killing.

    Looking for answers, this reporting takes us to the bizarre world of floating armories, which are part bunkhouse, part weapons depot, where maritime mercenaries wait for their next ship deployment. For broader context, the story explores the explosion of violence on the high seas, how Somali piracy is often used as a pretext for bloodletting by private security guards and the reasons that offshore crime often happens with impunity.

    Guest Interviews:
    Duncan Copeland, Trygg Mat Tracking
    Kevin Thompson, Private Maritime Security Guard

    • 53 min
    Episode 2: The Dark Fleet

    Episode 2: The Dark Fleet

    It would be hard to believe if it hadn't actually happened. The longest law-enforcement chase in nautical history, spanning 110 days and 10,000 miles, featured a bunch of vigilantes pursuing Interpol's most wanted illegal fishing ship. Slaloming around icebergs in a deadly glacier field, cutting through a category 5 storm, this chase only ended when one of the ships sank.

    To discuss why illegal fishing is so rampant and unchecked, this episode takes us from the capture of the world's most notorious scofflaw vessel in African waters to the seas off the coast of North Korea, where we discover the planet's largest illegal fishing fleet.

    Guest Interview
    Tony Long, CEO of Global Fishing Watch

    • 53 min
    Episode 3: Slavery At Sea

    Episode 3: Slavery At Sea

    Ian’s account of his groundbreaking reporting on slavery in the South China Sea, the first time a reporter had ever made it onboard a Thai distant-water vessel using enslaved labour.

    Found shackled by the neck as part of the crew on a dilapidated fishing vessel, Lang Long was a victim of the nightmarish world of debt bondage. A global scourge, sea slavery is something most people do not realize exists. This episode explains how it happens, taking us for the first time on board one such roach and rat-infested ship on the South China Sea, worked by 40 Cambodian boys.

    The episode also explains how overfishing has given rise to trans-shipment, fish-laundering and a prevalence of abuse that companies and governments have a tough time countering or tracking.

    Guest Interviews
    Shannon Service, Director of “Ghost Fleet”
    Daniel Murphy, Freedom Fund

    • 1 hr
    Episode 4: From The Sea, Freedom

    Episode 4: From The Sea, Freedom

    The sea has always been a metaphor for freedom – an escape from governments, laws and other people. This episode takes us off the coast of England to Sealand. A rogue “micronation” meant to embody this very freedom, which was founded on an abandoned British anti-aircraft platform in 1967. “From the Sea, Freedom” explores the world of libertarian-minded endeavors at sea, where renegades and mavericks of all sorts seek to escape the laws of land-bound nation-states.

    The reporting also visits the high seas near Mexico to meet other characters who leverage the freedom and a legal gray area found offshore. We travel with Rebecca Gomperts, the founder of Women on Waves, a group that provides abortion access for women who live in countries where it is restricted. Secretly carrying several Mexican women beyond national waters, Rebecca uses a loophole in maritime law to legally administer pills that will end their pregnancies.

    Guest Interview
    Rebecca Gomperts, founder of "Women on Waves"

    • 51 min
    Episode 5: Waves of Extraction

    Episode 5: Waves of Extraction

    The oceans are running out of fish. To slow down that problem, environmentalists pushed for fish farming or aquaculture. The problem is this industry became too big and too hungry. To fatten the farmed fish faster, they started feeding the high-protein pellets called fishmeal — made from massive amounts of fish caught at sea. Now, more than 30 percent of all marine life pulled from the sea feeds other fish in aquaculture farms inland.

    To explore this upside-down situation, we travel to the West African country of The Gambia for an offshore patrol where hundreds of Chinese and other fishing boats trawl for fishmeal production, cratering the local food source and polluting the coastline.

    Guest Interview
    Dr. Daniel Pauly, Marine Biologist

    • 51 min
    Episode 6: The Magic Pipe

    Episode 6: The Magic Pipe

    When a ship inadvertently spills oil, it’s big news. But every three years, ships intentionally dump more oil than the Exxon Valdez, and BP spills combined. This episode highlights a vexing and woefully under-discussed problem. It is made possible by corrupt ship captains who use a so-called “Magic Pipe” that dumps oil discreetly under the water line rather than disposing of it on land as legally required.

    To learn about this problem, the episode tells the story of Carnival’s Caribbean Princess cruise ship, which used such a pipe and was caught, convicted and hit with the biggest fine in history. This case is set in a broader context of other forms of at-sea dumping, such as plastic pollution, and highlights how the sea has long — and perilously — been viewed as a bottomless trash can.

    Guest Interviews
    Annie Leonard, CEO of Greenpeace, creator of “The Story of Plastic”
    Richard Udell, DOJ Prosecutor on the Caribbean Princess Case

    • 49 min

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