Blog: Seafood

Seafood Working Group Tackles Forced Labor and Environmental Abuses in Asia and the Pacific

Today, the Seafood Working Group (SWG) relaunches its research and advocacy coalition with 23 official members and a new Advisory Body . The SWG is a global coalition of human rights, labor and environmental non-governmental organizations working together to develop and advocate for effective government policy and industry action to end the related problems of forced labor and illegal and unsustainable fishing practices in the international seafood trade.

Improving Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Communications with Stakeholders Must Be A Two-Way Channel

 

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its report to the Chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources, House of Representatives, last week called “Forced Labor: Better Communication Could Improve Trade Enforcement Efforts Related to Seafood.” The overall recommendation is that CBP improve its communication with stakeholders about what information is needed for enforcement actions to be taken under Section 307 of the Tariff Act.  Yet the GAO remained silent on the need for CBP to be more transparent about their decision process, the enforcement actions they take and status of the petitions filed.

COVID-19 Impact on Migrant Workers in Thailand

The partial lockdown of Bangkok and order by the Thai Interior Ministry to close 18 border points taking effect on March 23 triggered a mass exodus of migrant workers from Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos, with estimates ranging between 60,000 and 200,000 people having left the country.  Few were able to practice social distancing in the crowded bus stations and border areas, raising fears of infection.

U.S. TIP Report 2019: A missed opportunity for Freedom of Association in Thailand?

The 2019 U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report was released last week. Rightly so, Thailand remained at its previous ranking of Tier 2. This ranking is reserved for countries that do not meet the minimum standards to address human trafficking but are making efforts to do so. Maintaining the Tier 2 status is consistent with the Thai Seafood Working Group’s recommendation, yet the U.S. government missed an opportunity to focus Thai authorities and businesses on the structural changes needed to prevent labor trafficking in the country.

International Buyers Must Prevent Thailand Backtracking on Convention

Many people around the world have been horrified by reports of human rights abuses in the seafood industry. A 2014 article in the Guardian sounded alarm bells that all seafood purchasers large and small should answer. But the issue of slavery in the seafood supply chain is larger and more complex than consumers or even companies can tackle alone. Large multinational companies have had to band together to form the Seafood Taskforce, and yet government action is still needed.

Worker Voice Without Worker Agency Fails Seafood Workers

“Worker voice” is the current buzzword among corporate social responsibility professionals seeking to end labor exploitation in the seafood industry, yet the original meaning of worker voice – in which workers form associations to collectively bargain for better conditions on an equal footing with employers – is nowhere to be found.

Respect, not restraints, for workers in Thailand's seafood industry

Workers in cages – that’s what reporters from the Associated Press found during a year-long investigation into forced labor in the global seafood supply chain. The workers were Burmese nationals, trafficked onto Thai-run fishing vessels working for an Indonesian firm in Indonesian waters, underlining the complex, global nature of the problem. While the cries of help the AP documented from these trapped workers has shaken the industry and led to renewed calls for action, their voices are rarely included in the solutions. All too often efforts to “reform” the industry leave them as vulnerable as ever.

Justice for the Earth and all its workers

Today, hundreds of thousands of people are marching across the globe in a historic effort to demand action on climate change. The People's Climate March is a challenge to the world's leaders to focus on developing policies that will establish a more sustainable world. At ILRF, we work closely with environmental groups to include labor rights as part of the sustainability agenda. We have found time and again that corporate practices that allow unchecked exploitation of environmental resources also lead to exploitation of communities and people.

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