Fishing Boats

Migrant workers trafficked into the Thai fishing industry are sometimes described as ‘sold to the sea.’ These men, particularly work-seeking Burmese, often face a perfect storm of poverty-based need and debt bondage, extreme hardship, physical danger and isolation—corporate accountability lost in opaque supply chains, the regulatory dead space of international waters and scarce enforcement where laws apply. Those returned or rescued from ‘slave ships’ describe kidnapping, beatings, torture, being sold and resold among vessels that stay at sea for months and often years, as well as murder. Their stories and the context of these abuses are reported in exceptional recent New York Times and Associated Press articles.

Verité has been promoting responsible practices in seafood through research, assessments and consultation with suppliers globally for the last five years (please visit Verité’s website for more information). In Thailand, we are conducting in-depth investigations, guiding remediation and supporting a key multi-stakeholder initiative in addressing critical risks to workers at sea.

On September 8 in Bangkok, Verité will be holding a free results-focused workshop to engage leading retailers, brands, suppliers, civil society, and government actors in practical discussion of Verité findings, current initiatives, effective approaches, and opportunities for immediate and longer-term action to tackle chronic obstacles. We will also share and seek concrete input on a suite of compliance tools that we are customizing for the seafood sector.

This seafood-focused convening is one in a series Verité has held in partnership with the Aspen Institute to refine the toolset to address forced labor that we will publicly release in fall 2015. While much attention has focused on the Thai seafood sector, these problems are common elsewhere in the world, and our work aims to build awareness and provide practical tools that apply throughout the global seafood sector.

This initiative and the September convening are sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons to help businesses understand how their supply chains might be linked to human trafficking and how they can comply with new and emerging legal frameworks (such as U.S. Executive Order 13627 – Strengthening Protections Against Trafficking In Persons In Federal Contracts, the California Supply Chains Transparency Act, the UK Modern Slavery Act and others) as well as the heightened expectations of consumers and business partners.

For more information about our work in the seafood sector or about the Bangkok meeting, please contact Lydia Long or Allison Arbib.

UPCOMING WORKSHOP

Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Bangkok, Thailand
 

Workshop on Model Approaches to Fight Human Trafficking and Other Labor Abuses in the Global Seafood Supply Chain

PURPOSE

The free 1-day workshop is designed for brands, suppliers, civil society and government actors to:

  • Share progress and lessons from current approaches to managing trafficking risk;
  • Discuss common obstacles in managing supply chain risk and strategies for leveraging existing sustainability frameworks to ‘change the chain;’
  • Discuss Verité’s draft model compliance plan for fighting trafficking in supply chains worldwide, including a plan tailored to the global seafood sector;
  • Learn about and provide input on ways that existing seafood environmental sustainability or Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing frameworks can be leveraged to fight human trafficking in the seafood sector; and
  • Align on concrete steps that brands and suppliers can take to address risk in their business practices, with an eye toward pacing and sequencing compliance efforts for maximum impact.

 

FORMAT

  • Highly interactive workshop designed to provide concrete suggestions and input on Verité’s draft open-source model compliance plan to fight trafficking;
  • Case presentation and panel discussion by stakeholders who are highly active in this space; and
  • Generate practical recommendations and concrete takeaways from breakout groups.