No announcement yet.

Thailand's seafood industry: state-sanctioned slavery?

This is a sticky topic.
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Child workers in Thai seafood industry face hazards, injuries - report
    Reporting by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.; Editing by Alisa Tang
    BANGKOK, Sept 14 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Children employed in Thailand's seafood processing industry are more exposed to workplace hazards such as fire or gas, and twice as likely to be injured than minors working in other industries, experts said on Monday.

    Under Thai law, the minimum age of employment is 15 years, but many younger children - including migrant children from neighbouring Myanmar - are working illegally and not attending school, they said.

    Almost 20 percent of children in the seafood industries reported workplace injuries, compared to 8.4 percent in other workplaces, the International Labour Organisation and the Asia Foundation experts said in a new report.

    "In the 21st century no child should be brutalised by exploitation," said Maurizio Bussi, head of the International Labour Organization's office in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.

    Migrant children are disproportionately exploited because Thailand's seafood industry, with exports valued at $3 billion a year, relies heavily on cheap labour, mostly from Myanmar.

    Children in the seafood industry work almost 50 hours per week - about 6 hours more than Thai children - and few are aware of child labour laws. Just 30 percent of minors who are above the minimum employment age enjoy the legal protection of a contract, the report said.

    Thailand, the world's third-largest seafood exporter, is under pressure internationally after rights groups and media investigations accused the seafood industry of using slave labour.

    Vitit Muntarbhorn, an international human rights lawyer and professor at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, said the country has the laws in place to tackle labour abuses.

    "What we need is better enforcement," Vitit, a member of the ILO Committee of Experts, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at the launch of the report. "The question is how do you get children out of this situation?"

    The report recommended improving migrant children's access to early childhood education centres, from the age of three, so they become proficient enough in Thai to enter formal schools in first grade.

    It also said part-time schooling for migrant children, in particular 15- to 17-year-olds, would improve their chances of staying in education.

    The report found big differences in labour standards between the canned tuna and the shrimp industry.

    The shrimp industry, with more than 10,000 farms, traders and processors, is much harder to monitor and regulate than the canned tuna industry, which is dominated by three big players who improved labour standards after pressure from overseas buyers.

    Governments, buyers, producers, NGOs and international organisations should work together to improve labour conditions, the report said.

    In addition, procedures for migrant workers to register with the Thai government should be simplified, while buyers abroad should be held accountable to work with suppliers to maintain international standards.


    • Over 2,000 enslaved fishermen rescued in 6 months from Thai-Indonesian fishing business
      Friday Sep 18, 2015

      In response a multimillion-dollar Thai-Indonesian fishing business has been shut down and at least nine people have been arrested.
      Photo / Greg Bowker

      More than 2,000 fishermen have been rescued this year from brutal conditions at sea, liberated as a result of an Associated Press investigation into seafood brought to the U.S. from a slave island in eastern Indonesia.

      Dozens of Burmese men in the bustling port town of Ambon were the latest to go home, some more than a decade after being trafficked onto Thai trawlers.

      Grabbing one another's hands, the men walked together toward buses last week. As they pulled away for the airport, some of those still waiting their turn to go home cheered, throwing their arms in the air.

      "I'm sure my parents think I'm dead," said Tin Lin Tun, 25, who lost contact with his family after a broker lured him to Thailand five years ago.

      Instead of working in construction, as promised, he was sold onto a fishing boat and taken to Indonesia. "I'm their only son. They're going to cry so hard when they see me."

      The reunion he envisions has played out hundreds of times since March, after the AP tracked fish - caught by men who were savagely beaten and caged - to the supply chains of some of America's biggest food sellers, such as Wal-Mart, Sysco and Kroger, and popular brands of canned pet food like Fancy Feast, Meow Mix and Iams.

      It can turn up as calamari at fine restaurants, as imitation crab in a sushi roll or as packages of frozen snapper relabeled with store brands that land on our dinner tables.

      The U.S. companies have all said they strongly condemn labor abuse and are taking steps to prevent it.

      In response, a multimillion-dollar Thai-Indonesian fishing business has been shut down, at least nine people have been arrested and two fishing cargo vessels have been seized.

      In the U.S., importers have demanded change, three class-action lawsuits are underway, new laws have been introduced and the Obama administration is pushing exporters to clean up their labor practices.

      The AP's work was entered into the congressional record for a hearing, and is scheduled to be brought up for discussion again later this month.

      The largest impact, by far, has been the rescue of some of the most desperate and isolated people in the world.

      More than 2,000 men from Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos have been identified or repatriated since the AP's initial story ran, according to the International Organization for Migration and foreign ministries.

      The tally includes eight fishermen trafficked aboard a Thai cargo ship seized in neighboring Papua New Guinea.

      And those returnee figures don't tell the whole story: Hundreds more have been quietly sent home by their companies, avoiding human trafficking allegations.

      "We've never seen a rescue on this scale before," said Lisa Rende Taylor, an anti-trafficking expert formerly with the United Nations who now heads the anti-slavery nonprofit Project Issara. "They deserve compensation and justice."

      Many experts believe the most effective pressure for change can come from consumers, whose hunger for cheap seafood is helping fuel the massive labor abuses.

      Southeast Asia's fishing industry is dominated by Thailand, which earns $7 billion annually in exports.

      The business relies on tens of thousands of poor migrant laborers, mainly from neighboring Southeast Asian countries.

      They often are tricked, sold or kidnapped and put onto boats that are commonly sent to distant foreign waters to poach fish.

      A year-long investigation led the AP to the island village of Benjina, part of Indonesia's Maluku chain about 400 miles north of Australia. There, workers considered runaway risks were padlocked behind the rusty bars of a cage.

      Men in Benjina - both those stuck on Thai fishing boats and others who had escaped into the jungle - were the first to go home when rescues led by the Indonesian government began in early April.

      Since then, hundreds more have been identified and repatriated from neighboring islands. Many of those leaving recently from Ambon were handed cash payments by company officials, but they said the money was a fraction of what they were owed.

      An AP survey of almost 400 men underscores the horrific conditions fishing slaves faced. Many described being whipped with stingray tails, deprived of food and water and forced to work for years without pay.

      More than 20 percent said they were beaten, 30 percent said they saw someone else beaten and 12 percent said they saw a person die.

      "My colleague, Chit Oo, fell from the boat into the water," wrote Ye Aung, 32, of Myanmar. "The captain said there was no need to search, he will float by himself later."

      Another man, 18-year-old Than Min Oo, said he was not paid and wrote simply: "Please help me."

      For many, the return home is bittersweet. Parents collapse in tears upon seeing their sons, and some men meet siblings born after they left.

      But almost all come back empty-handed, struggle to find jobs and feel they are yet another burden to their extremely poor families. At least one crowd-sourcing site, set up by Anti-Slavery International, is aimed at helping them.

      A study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine earlier this year, based on interviews with over 1,000 trafficking survivors from different industries, found half of those returning from slavery at sea suffered from depression and around 40 percent from post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety.

      Those men were not connected to the Benjina cases. Many bear physical scars as well.

      Tun Lin, who returned to Myanmar last week, held up his right hand: a stump with just a thumb.

      He said one finger was ripped off while he tried to wrangle an unwieldy net on the deck of his boat, and the other three were crushed beyond saving.

      He was taken by refrigerated cargo delivery ship to Thailand, where the remaining digits were surgically removed. Four days later, he said, he was put back on a ship bound for Indonesia, where he fished for the next three years.

      "There were some good captains, but there were a lot of bad ones," the 33-year-old said, his eyes filling with tears as he described how "boat leaders" were assigned to act as enforcers, beating up fishermen who weren't working fast enough.

      "When we asked for our money, they'd say they didn't have it ... but then they'd go to nightclubs, brothels and bars, drinking expensive alcohol."

      Like many of the men rescued from Ambon, Tun Lin had been working for PT Mabiru Industries, where operations were halted several months ago as authorities investigated trafficking and illegal fishing in the industry there.

      Mabiru, one of more than a dozen fishing, processing and cold storage firms in Ambon, sold packages of yellowfin tuna largely headed for Japanese markets, and also shipped to the United States. The company is shuttered and its managers could not be reached.

      Florida-based South Pacific Specialties, which distributes to supermarket chains, restaurants and food groups, received a shipping container loaded with frozen tuna from Mabiru in February.

      Managing partner Francisco Pinto told the AP his company had once rented out Mabiru's facilities in Ambon, bought tuna from private artisanal fishermen, and hired its own workers for filleting and processing fish.

      Pinto said he has spent the past six weeks in Indonesia meeting and observing fish suppliers because American customers are increasingly demanding fair treatment for workers.

      Amid the increased scrutiny, some have taken legal action.

      In the past month, three separate class-action lawsuits have been filed naming Mars Inc., IAMS Co., Proctor & Gamble, Nestle USA Inc., Nestle Purina Petcare Co. and Costco, accusing them of having seafood supply chains tainted with slave labor.

      Ashley Klann, a spokeswoman for the Seattle-based law firm behind several of the cases, said the litigation "came as a result of AP's reporting."

      Even with the increased global attention, hundreds of thousands of men still are forced to work in the seafood industry.

      "Slavery in Southeast Asia's fishing industry is a real-life horror story," said Congressman Chris Smith, R-N.J., who is among those sponsoring new legislation.

      "It's no longer acceptable for companies to deny responsibility - not when people are kept in cages, not when people are made to work like animals for decades to pad some company's bottom line."


      • Martin Banks
        September 18, 2015

        New York Times


        • Deadlines set to tackle fishing and trafficking
          September 19, 2015

          Prayut wants anti-trafficking measures undertaken by same date the EU has agreed for 'solutions' to bring the fishing industry into line

          THE GOVERNMENT has accelerated efforts to tackle illegal fishing and human-trafficking problems, with November 15 set as the deadline to meet crucial international requirements.

          Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said yesterday additional amendments to the Fisheries Act would be enacted by mid-November so as to fully meet the international regulations on fishing as required by the European Union. The EU earlier issued a warning to Thailand to comply with its rules or face a ban on seafood exports worth billions of baht to its 28 member countries.

          Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha also ordered authorities to finalise the country's 2015 report on anti-human trafficking measures by November 15 in a bid to show the international community the progress Thailand has achieved in preventing and solving human-trafficking problems.

          Both issues damaged the country's reputation and would hit Thai exports if countries start imposing bans.

          On the Fisheries Act, a source said the government may enact additional regulations with an executive decree after the latest amendments were already submitted to HM the King for royal endorsement.

          Additional amendments are required after the EU suggested that measures already implemented by Thai authorities were not yet sufficient to meet international fishing rules.

          The 28-country EU earlier slapped a yellow card on Thailand on grounds of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activities, and gave the country until the end of October to solve the problems or else it could ban Thai seafood shipments.

          EU agreed to November 15: Prawit

          Prawit said the EU had agreed to the November 15 deadline on additional legal amendments and would send senior officials here from October 19-23 to inspect progress made by the authorities.

          On the human-trafficking issue, Vichien Chao-walit, permanent secretary at the Social Development and Human Security ministry, said the premier had instructed officials to compile Thailand's annual report on the progress of its anti-human trafficking measures by November 15 as international agencies were closely watching the country's response to this issue.

          Earlier, the US failed to upgrade Thailand's status in its 2015 report on Trafficking in Persons, better known as the TIP report, despite significant progress achieved by Thai authorities in tackling the trafficking of Rohingya migrants via Thailand.

          Vichien said the premier had also ordered an amendment to the PM's Office regulations barring all government officials to use their status to pose bail for suspects arrested by police in human trafficking and other related offences.

          The amendment will be effective around October 15.

          In addition, the premier has ordered authorities to review all previous human-trafficking cases and take legal action against wrongdoers.

          Vichien said the country's report on anti-human trafficking measures would have to be submitted to the Cabinet on a yearly basis, covering progress in various areas concerning anti-human trafficking policy.

          The Thai report will also be sent to the US and other countries that pay close attention to this issue.

          "This annual report will include all the measures we have taken over the past year in tackling this issue, for both Thai and international audiences. The premier also asked officials to ensure illegal labour is not used in the fishing industry," he said.


          • Myanmar ex-slave: Those with sympathy would not eat our fish
            Sep 18

            In this Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015 photo, Burmese fisherman Kyaw Zayar, right, helps his friend Nge Nge, center, to translate a document Nge Nge has to sign in order to receive his unpaid salary in Ambon, Maluku province, Indonesia.
            Kyaw Zayar is among more than 2,000 fishermen rescued this year from forced labor under brutal conditions, mainly in remote Indonesian islands.
            The 30-year-old from Myawaddy, Myanmar, was forced to work on a fishing boat for nearly five years.

            (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

            AMBON, Indonesia (AP) -- Kyaw Zayar is among more than 2,000 fishermen rescued this year from forced labor under brutal conditions, mainly in remote Indonesian islands. The 30-year-old from Myawaddy, Myanmar, was forced to work on a fishing boat for nearly five years.

            Last week he was among dozens in the fishing port of Ambon waiting to return to Myanmar. Enslaved fishermen were freed and allowed to return to their home countries as Indonesian officials, prompted by reporting by The Associated Press, investigated the industry.

            This is his story, in his own words, translated from Burmese and with editing for organization and length.


            I came here Aug. 10, 2010. First I was told that I would earn some money working on the fishing boat and that it was easy to go back home. But as I arrived in Indonesia, I didn't have a chance to go back. ... This is not only me; it happened to all other fishermen.

            On the fishing boat, we had to work all the time. There was almost no time to rest. We never had time to sleep. If we tried, we were sworn at by the captain.

            The minimum wage was supposed to be 9,000 baht ($250) a month, but now they want to pay us about 5,000 ($140). ... We had to work about 20 hours a day out of 24. ... We are demanding 9,000 baht a month and they don't want to pay us that.

            I think everyone should know how these fish are caught. ... This is completely like modern slavery. If anyone had sympathy, they wouldn't eat the fish that we caught.



            • Three Thai vessels seized for illegal fishing
              September, 24 2015

              One of the three Thai fishing vessels that were seized off the southernmost Ca Mau Province on Tuesday.

              CA MAU (VNS)




                • Thai man arrested on boat believed to be carrying slave fish
                  Mason reported from Jakarta, Indonesia and McDowell from Singapore.
                  Associated Press videographer Vasapa Wanichwethin contributed to this report from Bangkok.
                  Sep 25

                  SABANG, Indonesia (AP) -- The Thai captain of a seized cargo ship carrying an estimated $2 million worth of seafood has been arrested in Indonesia on suspicion of illegal fishing, in the latest development linked to an Associated Press investigation that uncovered a slave island earlier this year. At least one other crew member is still under scrutiny.

                  The massive Thai-owned Silver Sea 2 was first identified by AP in July through a high-resolution photo taken from space, showing slave-caught fish being loaded onto the refrigerated vessel in Papua New Guinea's waters. The AP then tracked the ship through its satellite beacon and informed Indonesian authorities when it crossed into their waters on its way home to Thailand.

                  Friday's arrest is one of 10 made in Indonesia and Thailand since the investigation tied the catch of migrant workers forced to fish to the supply chains of major U.S. food sellers and pet food companies six months ago. As a result, more than 2,000 men from Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos have been identified or sent home, a multi-million dollar Thai-Indonesian fishing business has been shut down, class action lawsuits have been filed and new laws have been introduced.

                  Touring the Silver Sea 2 on Friday, Indonesian Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said she believed the frozen fish filling up its holds came from eastern Indonesia's Arafura Sea, where foreign fishing vessels are banned. She also said authorities are looking further into evidence that suggests the ship may be linked to the human trafficking ring described by AP. The Silver Sea 2 is accused of receiving illegally-caught fish at sea and turning off its satellite beacon, and the remaining 16 crew members will be deported.

                  Pudjiastuti said she hoped anyone found guilty would face harsh punishment as a deterrent, and the vessel may be destroyed.

                  Indonesia has already blown up dozens of smaller foreign boats accused of illegal fishing. The 2,285-ton ship is now at a naval base in Sabang in the country's far northwestern tip.

                  "If the court decides it should be confiscated, then we will sink it," she said.

                  Silver Sea Reefer Co., which owns Silver Sea 2, maintains it has done nothing wrong.

                  Thailand's fishing industry, worth $7 billion a year in exports, relies on tens of thousands of poor migrant laborers who come seeking jobs mainly from neighboring countries. They often are tricked, sold or kidnapped and put onto boats sent to distant foreign waters to poach fish. Refrigerated cargo ships are used to pick up seafood and sometimes transport new slaves, although no victims of trafficking were found on the Silver Sea 2.

                  Late last year, AP journalists saw slave-caught fish being loaded onto another reefer owned by Silver Sea in the Indonesian island village of Benjina, where men were found locked in a cage for asking to go home. In written surveys conducted with nearly 400 slaves who later were rescued, several also told AP they were trafficked to Indonesia from Thailand aboard Silver Sea ships, including Silver Sea 2.

                  The high-resolution photo taken from space for AP by U.S.-based commercial satellite imagery company DigitalGlobe showed the Silver Sea 2 in Papua New Guinea with its holds open and a trawler tethered to each side, loading fish. Analysts identified the smaller boats as among those that fled Benjina earlier this year, crewed by enslaved men who said they were routinely beaten and forced to work nearly nonstop with little or no pay. Another Thai cargo ship was also impounded in Papua New Guinea after eight trafficking victims were found on board.

                  The AP's work was entered into the U.S. congressional record for a hearing, after links were made to the supply chains of American companies such as Wal-Mart, Sysco, Kroger, Fancy Feast, Meow Mix and Iams. The businesses have all said they strongly condemn labor abuse and have taken steps to prevent it. Congress is scheduled to discuss the AP findings again later this month.



                  • Lawsuit accuses Thai Union of selling US consumers seafood from supply chain using slave labor

                    Lawsuit accuses Thai Union of selling US consumers seafood from supply chain using slave labor
                    Tom Seaman
                    September 30, 2015

                    A lawsuit filed in California on Sept. 25 accuses Thai Union Group and its US subsidiaries of selling products to consumers from a supply chain that contains slave labor.

                    This is the first lawsuit over alleged slave labor filed directly against Thai Union and its Chicken of the Sea US subsidiaries. Thai Union is named in class action lawsuits filed against Nestle, Mars and Proctor and Gambleis named as a defendant in the wave of class action lawsuits alleging price fixing in the US tuna market, was not immediately available for comment to Undercurrent Newsissued a new code of conduct and soon after the company went on record to detail the work it is doing on its supply chainon a webinar on human rights issues on Sept. 28it emerged Thailand will spend another year on Tier 3 of the US Trafficking in Persons (TIP) list, the New York Times published a story alleging Thai Union had been the ultimate buyer of fish caught on vessels using slave crews, then sold to motherships.

                    At the time, Thai Union told UndercurrentUndercurrent, in a statement.

                    "The latest class-action lawsuit against Chicken of the Sea is further proof that people won't stand for tuna that is not caught ethically and sustainability," she said. "This industry giant should step up as a leader and ensure its products meet the standards it claims to support."



                    • Europe increases pressure on Thailand over illegal fishing: 'Yellow card' update
                      Nathan Gray

                      Yellow card system said Karmenu Vella, the European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

                      Ghana and Papua New Guinea join the growing list of countries (Korea, the Philippines, Fiji, Belize, Panama, Togo and Vanuatu) that have reformed their systems, following a warning by the EU.



                      • Greenpeace urges consumers and investors around the globe to avoid Thai Union Group canned tuna

                        an investor brief to Thai Union Group shareholders2015 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) reportNotes to editors:

                        Greenpeace has ranked Thai Union Group brands in its canned tuna rankings for major markets around the world. To view the Greenpeace tuna rankings, click here.

                        For more information about the campaign, click here.

                        To access the investor brief sent to Thai Union Group shareholders, click here.



                        • Thai fishing trawlers unloading catch in Cambodia


                          • Originally posted by Mid View Post
                            Indonesian navy busts Thai cargo ship filled with suspected slave-caught fish
                            Thursday 13 August 2015

                            Huge refrigerated ship tracked for a week from Papua New Guinea to Indonesian waters and then escorted to Sabang naval base

                            A 14 July 2015 satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows two fishing trawlers load slave-caught fish onto the Silver Sea 2, centre Photograph: Digital Globe/AP Associated Press in JakartaIndonesia



                            • John West urged to clarify origins of Thailand-sourced tuna
                              October 14, 2015

                              Greenpeace has accused John West of making a "plainly false" claim that customers can trace its tuna back to the vessel that caught it.

                              Greenpeace has called for clarity about the origins of some tuna fish sourced from Thailand

                              A tool on John West's website allows customers to enter the can code and "see exactly where your fish came from".

                              But Greenpeace said that despite some products being labelled as "100% traceable" and accompanied by an arrow pointing to the company's website, the website's tool provided no way of tracing tuna if it had come from Thailand.

                              Greenpeace said its investigation found that thousands of John West tuna products in supermarkets across the UK were from Thailand.

                              Customers who enter Thailand as the country of origin are asked to email John West instead.

                              It said John West had a responsibility to show customers full transparency, especially given international concerns over the Thai fishing industry which included environmental destruction and human rights abuses.

                              Greenpeace oceans campaigner Ariana Densham said: "John West promises to tell 'the story behind every can' but it's keeping shtum on its Thai cans, when these are precisely the ones consumers deserve to have the clearest information on.

                              "When a company like John West puts '100% traceable' on its tins, consumers quite rightly expect to be able to take their word for it.

                              "John West has a duty to tell its customers the story behind these cans from Thailand - and to call on its owners Thai Union to ensure its supply chains are free from human rights abuses and to drive out the industry's exploitation of the oceans and those who work on them."

                              Last week Greenpeace accused John West of breaking a promise to consumers by continuing to use "destructive" fishing methods to catch tuna.

                              The latest league table for tuna sold by supermarkets and companies produced by Greenpeace ranked the firm last because 98% of its tuna was caught using "fish aggregation devices" which kill other marine wildlife including sharks and endangered turtles.



                              • John West promises transparency but buries links to Thai tuna
                                Maeve McClenaghan
                                14 October 2015

                                Credit: Greenpeace UKhad broken its sustainability promise to consumers.

                                For years said:Thai for dinner?
                                New York Times found a fishermen forced to work against his will for ships which supplied goods to a cannery in another region called the Songkla Canning Public Company- a subsidiary of Thai Union.

                                In another investigation the Associated Press followed a shipment of fish, species unknown, from a ship that used slave labour to Niwat Co., which sells to Thai Union.

                                Thailand is currently on a yellow card from the EU for things like illegal fishing, but a judgement is set for later this year: where it is possible Thailand will receive a red card which would mean a total ban on EU trade.

                                Greenpeace is now calling on Thai Union to prove that its supply chain is free of human rights abuses and must use its position to drive out exploitative practices from the tuna industry.

                                John West told The Timeslast week.



                                Valentina Jewels gets pounded like a btich dog ?????? ??????? ????????? ???????? ???? diferentes tipos de bajinas
                                antalya escort bayan