International Transport Workers' Federation calls for moratorium on practice associated with human rights abuse and illegal fishing

The International Transport Workers' Federation has called for a moratorium on high seas transshipment by tuna longline vessels in the Indian ocean, Gulf of Thailand, and South China Sea. Global tuna giant Thai Union should act next to protect workers and stop illegal fishing.

- - -

International Transport Workers' Federation calls for moratorium on practice associated with human rights abuse and illegal fishing

The International Transport Worker’s Federation (ITF) has called for a moratorium on high seas transshipment by tuna long-line vessels in the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea until companies implement fair labour standards throughout their supply chains to protect fishers and seafarers.

 

Transshipment is the practice of offloading fish from one boat onto another. During transshipment, often illegally caught fish is moved into a legal boat and then on into the supply chain. It is often used to mask illegal fishing practices, horrendous working conditions and human trafficking.

 

Johnny Hansen, ITF fisheries section chair and President of the Norwegian Seafarers' Union said, “Fishers of all nationalities deserve to have basic safety and health protections, work in an environment free from physical or mental abuse, and have the right to organise/freely associate to protect themselves.” Reports of terrible working conditions at sea, caused at least in part by transshipment, have been investigated by Associated Press, the New York Times and the Guardian. Describing these terrible conditions Hansen went on to say; “Too often, fishers are beaten or even killed for asserting their rights, and it’s time for us to take action against transshipment to protect everyone on the high seas.”

 

The ITF made their call for a moratorium in order to help protect their more than 4.5 million members from over 150 countries.

 

Mark Dia, oceans campaign manager for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, added, “Transshipment allows unscrupulous operators to cut down on crew costs and, in the worst situations, enables slavery at sea. Transshipment means crews can be kept at sea for months or even years at a time without getting back to port, making it difficult – if not impossible – to report on, or to escape from, physical abuse, poor working conditions, violence and even murder on board fishing vessels.”

 

Greenpeace is currently campaigning on global seafood giant Thai Union, urging the world’s largest canned tuna company to ensure its tuna is safe for workers and our oceans. While global seafood giant Thai Union has acknowledged the issues around transshipment at sea, it has thus far failed to take adequate action to address it. Greenpeace is calling on the company to ensure its supply chains are free of potential labour abuse and illegal fishing by placing a moratorium on the practice immediately.

 

Until there is sufficient monitoring, control and surveillance of long line tuna fleets throughout supply chains, Thai fishers and their migrant counterparts from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos unnecessarily face poor working conditions and egregious human and labour rights violations. Transshipment at sea allows fishers to be kept on vessels for long periods of time, sometimes in substandard conditions where they, together with observers, have no way to report abuse or escape. In 2015, an estimated 40 percent of these transfers happened on the high seas, outside of the jurisdiction of national authorities. Transshipment at sea has also been linked to other organized crime, including drug, weapon and wildlife trafficking.


You can help end the destructive practice of transshipment at sea. Tell Thai Union to Stand Up For Human Rights and Our Oceans. Call on Thai Union to act now.