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Thailand's seafood industry: state-sanctioned slavery?

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  • #46
    Fock Greenpeace!


    • #47
      Warning: After Reading This Post, You May Never Eat Shrimp from Thailand Again
      Barry Estabrook
      February 19, 2015

      Unidentified workers on a shrimp farm in Samutprakran, Thailand.


      • #48
        Surely the lovely Thai Buddhists - the peaceful religion and smiling nation - can do no such thing


        • #49
          Overfishing driving slavery on Thailand's seafood boats

          In this Dec 12 photo, Min Min, from Myanmar, rests on a make-shift bed. Min Min was rescued from a tiny island two months ago, on the verge of starvation, and brought back to Thailand.
          (AP photo)

          As he struggles to sit up and steady himself, he tears at his thick, dark hair in agitation. He cannot walk and doesn't remember his family or even his own name. He speaks mostly gibberish in broken Indonesian - a language he learned while working in the country as a slave aboard a Thai fishing boat.

          Near death from a lack of proper food, he was rescued from a tiny island in Indonesia two months ago. He is just one of countless hidden casualties from the fishing industry in Thailand, the world's third-largest seafood exporter.

          A report released Wednesday by the British nonprofit Environmental Justice Foundation said that overfishing and the use of illegal and undocumented trawlers have ravaged Thailand's marine ecosystems and depleted fish stocks. Boats are now catching about 85% less than what they brought in 50 years ago, making it "one of the most overfished regions on the planet," the report said.

          Shrinking fisheries in the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea have, in turn, pushed Thai fishing boats farther and farther from home. The group estimates that up to half of all fish labelled a "product of Thailand" is sourced from outside its borders - mainly in Asia, but as far away as Africa.

          The report, compiled from the group's own research and the work of others, explains how Thailand's vast seafood industry is almost wholly dependent on cheap migrant labour. Since few Thais are willing to take the dangerous, low-level jobs that can take them far from home, a sophisticated network of brokers and agents has emerged, regularly recruiting labourers from impoverished neighbouring countries such as Myanmar and Cambodia, often through trickery and kidnapping.

          Men - and sometimes children as young as 13 - are sold onto boats where they typically work 18-to-20-hour days with little food and often only boiled sea water to drink, enduring beatings and sometimes even death at the hands in their captains. Most are paid little or nothing. They can be trapped at sea for months or years at a time; transhipment vessels are routinely used to pick up catches and deliver supplies.

          Concerns about labour abuses, especially at sea, prompted the US State Department last year to downgrade Thailand to the lowest level in its annual human-trafficking report, putting the country on par with North Korea, Iran and Syria. It highlighted abuse on both ships and in processing plants, noting widespread involvement from corrupt officials.

          Migrant workers watch from a fishing vessel in Chumphon while Thai officials conduct a raid on forced labour in the fishing industry in the southern province in September
          (Bangkok Post photo)

          The Southeast Asian nation responded by launching a major public-relations campaign, with the government drafting its own country assessment to highlight steps taken to clean up the industry since the military took over in May. The unreleased Thai report, obtained by The Associated Press, includes establishing a new national registry of illegal migrant workers and plans for stricter labour regulations on vessels and in the seafood industry.

          However, just a month after the new government stepped in, Thailand was the only country in the world to vote against a UN international treaty aimed at stopping forced labour.

          "If you drill down, if you look at the substance of enforcement and the implementation of existing laws and regulations, it's minimal," said Steve Trent, the group's executive director. "What the Thai government seems to do repeatedly, again and again in the face of these accusations, is conduct a high-powered PR exercise rather than seek to address the problem."

          A Thai government spokesman and officials at the Department of Fisheries did not immediately respond to The Associated Press' requests for comment.

          Min Min, from Myanmar, tears at his thick black hair in agitation, as he tries to remember details about his family.
          (AP photo)

          Thailand, which exported $7 billion in seafood in 2013, is one of the biggest suppliers to the US. But a study published last year in the journal Marine Policy estimated 25%-40% of tuna shipped from Thailand to America is from illegal or unreported sources - the highest rate of any species or country examined - and is frequently linked to labour abuses at sea.

          Human-rights advocates say some improvements have been noted in domestic waters, but such policies have little impact when vessels stray into the territorial waters of other countries. Travelling longer distances to catch fish raises operating costs, and increases pressure on fishing companies to save money by relying on forced, bonded and slave labour.

          "On long-haul boats, nothing has changed in the brutal working conditions and physical abuse meted out by captains against their crews," said Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, who has worked extensively on the issue. "The reality is the Thai government's high-sounding rhetoric to stop human trafficking and clean up the fishing fleets still largely stops at the water's edge."

          The man rescued from the Indonesian island in December now remembers his name - Min Min - and bits of his old life in Myanmar, also known as Burma. But his mind remains far from clear.

          He knows he worked three years on a boat in Indonesia where his ankles were sometimes bound with rope. He recalls collapsing one day on deck during a storm and being unconscious for three hours before the Thai captain forced him to get up and haul the nets back in.

          Eventually, he became too sick and weak to work and was abandoned on the remote island two years ago.

          Min Min was on the verge of starvation when he was rescued and taken to the nonprofit Labor Rights Protection Network in Samut Sakhon, a gritty port town on the outskirts of Bangkok. He's eating well and taking vitamins to try to regain his strength, and he can now stand and slowly shuffle across the floor.

          He is still far from well. He's confused about such basics as his age, saying once that he is 43 and later that he is 36. If his family back in Myanmar is mentioned, he becomes rattled and stutters his thoughts as if it's too much to bear.

          "Working on the boat is no good. People like to take advantage of you," he said. "If I recover from my illness, I'll never be on a boat again in my life. Never again. I'm scared."

          Fishing boats dock at the Tap Lamu fishing pier in Phangnga province.
          (Bangkok Post photo)


          • #50
            Simply disgusting . . . and hardly a new phenomenon


            • #51
              No slave labour in our fishmeal supply chain-Thailand's CPF
              Reporting by Khettiya Jittapong, editing by William Hardy
              Tue Mar 17, 2015

              Charoen Pokphand Foods PCL (CPF), Thailand's largest meat and animal feed producer, said it has imposed stricter measures against labour abuse and insists that all of the supply chain in its shrimp business was free from illegal labour.

              The move is part of its attempt to assure clients that the food giant does not use fishmeal made by slave labour.

              Last year, the United States downgraded Thailand to the lowest "Tier 3" status in the world's worst centers of human trafficking. The downgrade prompted some clients to suspend orders with CPF.

              "The company wants to assure that our fishmeal supply chain is free from illegal labour," Kosit Lohawatanakul, senior executive vice president for CPF's overseas trading unit said in a statement.

              The company, one of the world's leading integrated shrimp farmers, does not own a fishing vessel and is not fishmeal producer.

              The company buys fishmeal from 30 suppliers with 380 fishing boats, down from 50 suppliers in the previous years, the statement said.

              The company has worked with U.S. safety firm Underwriters Laboratories to guarantee its transparancy and continues to examine documents and check with fishmeal factories and boats to ensure the slave labour issue is solved, it said.

              The The European Union has also put pressure on Thailand to comply with international standards related illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, a Thai shrimp association has said.

              Thailand, once the world's top shrimp exporter, has seen its share of the world market drop to 10 percent against 30 percent to 40 percent in 2012, maingly due to drop in supply after the sector was hit by the disease of Early Mortality Syndrome (EMS).

              Thailand's shrimp output is expected to recover to between 250,000 tonnes and 300,000 tonnes this year on hopes of improvement of the EMS disease, industry bodies has said said.



              • #52
                The company buys fishmeal from 30 suppliers with 380 fishing boats, down from 50 suppliers in the previous years, the statement said.

                Name them AND allow independent verification .

                NOTHING less will do .


                • #53
                  Press Release: ITF 20 March 2015
                  ITF investigate labour rights abuses on Thai fishing vessels
                  Saturday, 21 March 2015, 10:10 am

                  ITF investigates labour rights abuses on Thai fishing vessels


                  • #54

                    Mark Davis, ITF deputy regional secretary for the Asia Pacific region



                    • #55

                      Gen Prayut also acknowledged the risk of Thai fishery products being banned by the EU due to its concerns about human trafficking as well as illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

                      Cleaning up the fishery industry and ending human trafficking were high on the national agenda and regulations would cover traders, operators, fishery associations, crews and officials, he said.

                      "Today we have received warnings from several directions. ... We must correct this quickly," he said. "Operators, employees and workers must be regulated. Otherwise, even if we catch seafood or process products, we cannot sell them."



                      • #56
                        Govt hopes to avert EU sanctions
                        Wassana Nanuam & Prangthong Jitcharoenkul

                        The government claims concrete progress has been made in tackling labour abuses in the fishing industry, in hopes of avoiding a "yellow card" from the European Union (EU). Such a warning could put Thailand at risk of fishing-trade sanctions.

                        Speaking on behalf of the Defence Ministry, which plays roles in suppressing human trafficking, spokesman Kongcheep Tantrawanich said yesterday the anti-human trafficking panel led by Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan has been working to avoid the warning called Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU) which would affect bilateral trade between Thailand and the EU.

                        Col Kongcheep said the joint working group, consisting of the Harbour Department, Fisheries Department, Customs Department, Labour Ministry, the marine police, immigration and the navy have been working comprehensively, especially on regulating fishing boats.

                        "So far 50,970 of around 53,000 fishing boats have registered and the authorities have told the boat owners to apply for fishing permits," he said.

                        Aside from registrations, other measures were implemented, particularly fishing vessel inspections in ports and the installation of Vehicle Monitoring Systems (VMS) on boats, which are expected to be ready for operation by the end of this month, according to the defence spokesman.

                        The navy is in charge of monitoring fishing boats both within and outside Thai waters while migrant workers in the fishing industry have also entered the Labour Ministry's regulation process, Col Kongcheep said.

                        Gen Prawit yesterday reiterated that the government aims to comply with EU international fishing standards. Thailand is also cooperating with Indonesia and Vietnam in resolving fishing problems.

                        "I insist we have been trying to improve fishing standards to meet EU requirements, so, I do not know why they [EU] are going to give us a yellow card," Gen Prawit said.

                        Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha asked for cooperation from all relevant sectors, especially employers and workers, saying the warning from foreign countries would negatively affect the country.

                        "We have received warning signs from several directions, both from the US Trafficking in Persons [TIP] report and the likely yellow card from the EU. We have to resolve this as soon as possible. If we fail to do so, we cannot sell fishing products," Gen Prayut said.

                        Agriculture Minister Pitipong Phuengboon Na Ayudhaya, said the EU's attitude has become more positive since Thailand informed them of the progress the country had made. Thailand plans, for instance, to introduce a new fisheries law.

                        The EU last year reported that many fishing practices in Thailand were not in accordance with EU regulations, especially human trafficking and labour abuses in the fisheries industry.

                        The EU has threatened to impose trade sanctions if the government fails to come up with plans to deal with the problems.

                        If the EU issues a red card, the European bloc may ban seafood products from Thailand.

                        Regarding the TIP report, deputy foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said on Thursday that the international community had requested to see more investigations of human trafficking cases after the country made some progress and submitted a summary report to the US in January.

                        Without mentioning the countries, Mr Don, who is also chairman of the National Sub-Commission on Law, Partnership and Awareness Promotion on Trafficking in Persons, said the international community does recognise that Thailand is trying to take action to end human trafficking.

                        "The international community, however, demanded disclosure of larger numbers of human trafficking rings and suspects involved in the cases," he said.

                        To ensure concrete progress with anti-human trafficking activities, the international community also requested that Thailand present information comparing its handling of human trafficking cases before and after the country was downgraded last June.

                        In addition, he said the Office of the Attorney-General plans to establish special judicial agencies to handle human trafficking cases, such as a prosecution office and a court.

                        "These agencies will look after human trafficking cases to speed up the justice process and reduce the number of future cases," the deputy foreign minister said.

                        Ahead of the submission deadline for the updated TIP report to the US, Mr Don said the report will be finished in time and he expects positive reactions from the international community, particularly from the TIP Office in the US and from the EU.



                        • #57
                          "I insist we have been trying to improve fishing standards to meet EU requirements, so, I do not know why they [EU] are going to give us a yellow card," Gen Prawit said.

                          here is a clue ...............



                          • #58
                            Thai seafood firm drops supplier after AP slavery report
                            Mar 25

                            BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- Thailand's biggest seafood company says it has cut relations with a supplier found by The Associated Press to have ties to human trafficking and forced labor.

                            The statement Wednesday by Thai Union Frozen Products follows a yearlong investigation that linked severe abuses on Southeast Asian fishing trawlers to dinner tables in the U.S. and around the world.

                            "Thai Union embraces AP's finding," the company says in a statement that calls the use of slave labor "utterly unacceptable." Thai Union said the supplier was "terminated" immediately after it was determined it might be involved with forced labor and other abuses.

                            Journalists followed a large shipment of slave-caught seafood by satellite to a Thai port town, where trucks picked up the fish and redistributed it to dozens of companies, including Thai Union.



                            • #59

                              Published on Mar 24, 2015

                              A year-long investigation by the Associated Press has found that seafood caught by slaves in Indonesia is sent to Thailand, where the fish can wind up in the supply chains of Wal-mart, Kroger, Albertsons, and Safeway. (March 24)


                              • #60
                                Thai Junta Warns Media Against Reporting on Human Trafficking

                                Full Article in seperate Thread here :



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