PACIFIC FISHERIES – NEW BHRRC REPORT
London, UK. At the start of the week, the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) launched a new briefing and online platform Out of Sight: Modern Slavery in Pacific Supply Chains of Canned Tuna – A Survey and Analysis of Company Action and issued a detailed report.
The report highlights the continuing growing body of evidence of modern slavery in the Pacific Tuna supply chain and its impact.
This included case study work from Human Rights at Sea in exposing past abuses in Fiji through a family perspective on a deceased Fijian crew member of a Taiwanese fishing vessel. The story of Salote Kaisuva, the widow of Fijian Crewman Mesake, was recently reported by the charity. Salote recalled: “I could see that the company was just using the men as slaves and not even giving them a rest of one week before calling them back to work at sea.”
The Pacific is home to world’s largest tuna fisheries, providing almost 60% of the world’s tuna catch in a growing industry currently worth US$22 billion. Yet severe human rights abuses, including forced labour, slavery, human trafficking and child labour, continue to persist.
Between November 2018 and January 2019, BHRRC surveyed 35 canned tuna companies and supermarkets, representing 80 of the world’s largest retail canned tuna brands, on their approach to human rights in Pacific tuna fishing operations and supply chains. 20 of the 35 companies responded.
BHRRC analysis of their responses reveals that, whilst a small cluster of leading companies are translating policies into practical steps, in general there is a pattern of policy prevailing over practice.
Without urgent and decisive action, there is a danger that company policy may provide a fig-leaf for abuse, whilst slavery continues unabated in the fishing sector.
The BHRRC report was reported in The Guardian.
Human Rights at Sea Founder, David Hammond, commented: “The charity was pleased to have had its investigative field work included in this key BHRRC report with more such case studies to follow, thereby building the growing body of civil society evidence of modern slavery and human rights abuses in the Pacific tuna supply chain.”