10 great quotes about stealing for maritime thieves

10 great quotes about stealing for maritime thieves

My article, How to steal millions from seafarers and get away with it, stirred so much interest that I thought I should follow it up with some quotes about stealing. Maritime thievery is not limited to dishonest manning agents. The shipping world is peopled by all sorts of white-collar thieves. Sometimes the amounts involved can be so staggering as to make pirates in the Caribbean or the Gulf of Aden turn green with envy.


And you, are you not greedy? Are you not a robber? The things you received in trust as a stewardship, have you not appropriated them for yourself?

~ St. Basil the Great ( (AD 329–379), as quoted in Eucharist and Ecclesiology: Essays in Honor of Dr. Everett Ferguson, edited by Wendell Willis


They’s two kind’s of stealing. They’s the small kind, like what you does, and the big kind, like I does. Fo’ de small stealing dey put you in jail soon or late. But fo’ de big stealin’ dey puts your picture in de paper and yo’ statue in de Hall of Fame when you croak..

~ Eugene O’Neill (1888–1953), American playwright in The Emperor Jones (1920)

The petty thief is imprisoned but the big thief becomes a feudal lord.

~ Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu), 4th century BC Chinese philosopher

Fraud and prevarication are servile vices. They sometimes grow out of the necessities, always out of the habits, of slavish and degenerate spirits…

~ Edmund Burke (1729–1797), Anglo-Irish statesman and author in The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, Vol. V

The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If “Thou shalt not covet,” and “Thou shalt not steal,” were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free.

~ John Adams (1735–1826), American statesman

Thieves respect property; they merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it.

~ G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936), English writer and philosopher


Fraud is infinite in variety; sometimes it is audacious and unblushing; sometimes it pays a sort of homage to virtue, and then it is modest and retiring; it would be honesty itself if it could only afford it.

~ Lord Macnaghten (1830–1913), British barrister and politician


The stinking puddle from which usury, thievery and robbery arises is our lords and princes. They make all creatures their property—the fish in the water, the birds in the air, the plant in the earth must all be theirs. Then they proclaim God’s commandments among the poor and say, “You shall not steal.”

~ Thomas Müntzer (c.?1489 – 1525), German theologian in his Sermon to the Princes

He that is robb’d, not wanting what is stol’n,
Let him not know’t, and he’s not robb’d at all.

~ William Shakespeare in Othello (c. 1603)


If this sticky, uncouth craving
overcomes you in the world,
your sorrows grow like wild grass
after rain.

If, in the world, you overcome
this uncouth craving, hard to escape,
sorrows roll off you,
like water beads off
a lotus.

~ Dhammapada (collection of sayings by the Buddha), translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

~ Barista Uno

The Marine Cafe Blog

If you liked this article, feel free to share it with your friends on social media.

How to steal millions from seafarers and get away with it

How to steal millions from seafarers and get away with it

How can one steal from seafarers big time and not be held accountable? In Manila, it is surprisingly easy. Many have been doing it for decades, not secretly but right before the eyes of seafarers and their families.

You just have do three things. One, own a manning agency with a valid licence to operate, preferably one that deploys several hundred Filipino seafarers. Two, convert the remittances of the crew from US dollars to pesos using a forex rate lower than the official bank rate and then keep the differential. Three, think nothing of the theft. Many others are engaging in the practice, so why feel guilty?

Marine Café Blog was the first to expose the decades-long scam in Manila’s manning sector. In reaction to my blog article and subsequent posts on social media, seafarers themselves have made numerous public comments that validate what I have been saying. One woman even sent me a private message to complain that the manning agency of her son, a ship officer, was using 50 pesos to the dollar instead of the prevailing rate of 51:1. From the feedback I have received, I can conclude that:

• cheating on the foreign exchange rate is widespread.

• some large crewing firms which many think are reputable engage in the malpractice.

• as a general rule, unscrupulous manning agents shave off one peso from the foreign exchange rate.

So how much are Filipino seafarers losing to the light-fingered characters in maritime Manila?

According to the Philippines’ central bank, the average exchange rate in 2018 was PHP52.66 to the dollar. Cash remittances from Filipino sea-based workers during that year totalled USD6,139,512,000.

Assuming that the banks charged 5% in service fees and other, hidden charges, the total would be USD5,832,536,400. Applying a reduced conversion rate of 51.66 for every dollar to just 70% of this figure, the aggregate take by manning agents in 2018 reached PHP4,082,775,480 or USD77,530,867.50.

This is grand-scale theft. It is egregious, a violation of both Philippine regulations and ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006. Yet, most seafarers seem to have accepted the massive cheating as part of life. That they grumble occasionally on social media but don’t make a big fuss over the issue is understandble. But what about the maritime unions? Their silence is very concerning, to say the least.

~ Barista Uno

The Marine Cafe Blog

If you liked this article, feel free to share it with your friends on social media.

10 jaw-dropping photographs of undersea life

10 jaw-dropping photographs of undersea life

The seascapes of Ivan Aivazovsky or J.M.W. Turner, both Romantic painters from the 19th century, are unquestionably beautiful. They captivate and mesmerise the viewer. However, they fail to portray the true beauty and character of the sea, which lie deep under the waves, hidden from the eyes of most mortals.

From the image galleries of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, I have selected 10 of the most astounding photographs. Click on each one for a larger view. For more information about the NOAA oceanic expeditions, please visit the OER website. A wealth of stunning pictures and scientific knowledge awaits the curious.

Octocoral
Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Deep-Sea Symphony: Exploring the Musicians Seamounts

A symphony of sights is constantly playing under the sea. These octocoral are gloriously beautiful like the the ‘Ode to Joy’ chorale in the 4th movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

Comb Jelly
Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2017 Laulima O Ka Moana

No need for hallucinogenic drugs to experience the strange and beautiful. The marine animal known as the comb jelly can stupefy the observer with its gelatinous body and mind-boggling shape. It is no fantasy, however, but a living reality.

Jellyfish
Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Windows to the Deep 2018

Salvador Dali, the famous Spanish surrealist painter, would probably have liked the image of this jellyfish. It seems out of this world, like a satellite floating silently in space against a giant tapestry of stars.

The coral, Chrysogorgia, under regular white light (left) and with bioluminescence (right)
Image courtesy of NOAA Bioluminescence and Vision on the Deep Seafloor 2015

These twin images of a coral pale in comparison with Vincent van Gogh’s iconic 1889 painting, The Starry Night. Nonetheless, they would have charmed the great Dutch post-impressionist artist. He loved the sea and nature in general.

A sea toad hanging out, waiting for its next meal to swim by, 2016
Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Deepwater Wonders of Wake

Steven Spielberg’s E.T. has some strong competition in the depths of the ocean — creatures that look weird, funny and adorable. 

Lophelia Coral
Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Windows to the Deep 2019

The sea has its own forests made up of corals which provide food and shelter to countless living creatures. What if all the corals were to disappear? It would be as apocalyptic as the earth losing all its forests.

Hard Rock
Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Exploring Atlantic Canyons and Seamounts 2014

Some corals thrive even on a rocky seabed, a fact that may remind the religious-minded of the popular verse in the Bible: 

And why take ye thought for raiment?
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow;
they toil not, neither do they spin:

(Matthew 6:28, King James Version)

A shrimp and a squat lobster share the same soft coral host
Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Hohonu Moana 2016

Creatures of the sea are either predators or preys. However, the undersea world is also characterised by peaceful co-existence and mutual benefit. The shrimp and lobster shown in this photograph have both found a home in a coral, which is like them a living animal. 

Dinner Plate Jelly (Solmissus)
Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Deep-Sea Symphony: Exploring the Musicians Seamounts

This jellyfish was probably given its common name because of its dish-like body. But it could also be on account of the fact that the solmissus actively hunts for prey instead of waiting for plankton to pass by. It does not want its plate empty. 

Whitetip shark
Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2017 Laulima O Ka Moana

This shark seems more frightening than the one in ‘Jaws’, a 1975 American thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg. The tips of its fins are aglow due to the biochemical emission of light, a phenomenon seen in organisms such as fireflies, glow-worms and some deep-sea fish. 

~ Barista Uno

The Marine Cafe Blog

If you liked this article, feel free to share it with your friends on social media.

EMSA inspections and the Filipino seafarer factory

EMSA inspections and the Filipino seafarer factory

The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) has visited what I call the Filipino seafarer factory seven times from 2006 to 2017. Those following the visits must be growing tired by now. Will the inspections go on ad infinitum? When will the European Commission, on whose behalf EMSA conducts the audits, make its final verdict on whether Manila has given full and complete effect to the STCW convention?

These are perfectly valid questions. However, those asking them seem to forget that there is no such thing as pass or fail in an audit. Never has EMSA used these terms in its inspection reports to the European Commision. And rightly so.

Audits are conducted to determine how well an organisation or system is performing and what measures can be taken to improve it. If the EMSA inspectors have kept coming back to Manila, it is because of perceived (an adjective EMSA likes to use) deficiencies in the Filipino seafarer factory. The machinery is still not well oiled. Some gears have broken teeth. There is rust in some of the equipment.

The more important question, I believe, is whether the prolonged series of EMSA inspections has had a long-lasting impact on the seafarer factory. Will it benefit Filipino seafarers in the end?

On the upside, EMSA has served as a gadfly to keep Philippine maritime authorities on their toes and prod them into action. Some reforms have indeed taken place, not the least being the passage of Republic Act No. 10635 making the Maritime Industry Authority the sole national authority on STCW matters. Perhaps more important, there is apparently an increased awareness on the part of the maritime schools that they need to adhere to international quality standards.

EMSA has served as a gadfly to keep Philippine maritime authorities on their toes and prod them into action.

On the downside, the never-ending EMSA visits have bolstered the perception that the European Commision and the 28 EU member states it represents will never get around to banning Filipino ship officers from working on board EU-flagged vessels. They will not, they dare not. It is a mindset that has produced a certain complacency amongst the Filipinos. How else explain the 41 deficiencies the EMSA team reportedly found during their last visit?

Most Filipino seafarers don’t give a hoot about the final outcome of the EMSA inspections. They care more about work and wages and how much manning agents are stealing from their dollar remittances. Deep in their hearts, they probably think that the seafarer factory and the people who manage it will not change significantly..

~ Barista Uno

The Marine Cafe Blog

If you liked this article, feel free to share it with your friends on social media.

A letter to the readers of Marine Café Blog

A letter to the readers of Marine Café Blog

Dear Friends and Followers,

Marine Café Blog will turn 10 years old this August. It is one of the most popular maritime blogs around with a broad–based readership.

The blog continues to be guided by the belief that the greatest challenge faced by the shippiing world in the 21st century is how to reclaim its humanity.

For this reason, it has been focusing mainly on seafarer issues as well as marine art and culture. It has done so with originality, style and courage.

I aim to keep this website running for as long as possible. Advertising banners help, but it is always good policy not to be beholden to any business interests.

Editorial independence. This, ultimately, is what matters or should matter to readers. It is what sets Marine Café Blog apart. 

If you believe in what Marine Café Blog is doing, please consider making a donation of 3, 5 or 10 dollars or whatever amount you can afford to help ensure its continuance.

Sincerely,

Barista Uno (BU)
Marine Café Blog

Support
Mariné
Cafe Blog