All of this occurs within inadequate and inconsistent legal frameworks regulating fishing industries, and poor enforcement where such laws do exist. In the absence of local reporting, these risk factors enable us to identify likely areas of national risk. Our analysis identified China, Japan, Russia, Spain, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand as being at high-risk of modern slavery in their respective fishing industries. Except for Spain, instances of serious labour abuses have been documented in the fishing industries of those countries identified or are strongly suspected as high-risk.
A second group of interest comprises the smaller developing countries with primarily domestic or geographically local fisheries. They tend to be countries that fish at home and have low levels of harmful subsidies but also have low value catches, low GDP and high levels of unreported catch.
These characteristics, in some cases, make them vulnerable to having forced labour in their own national fishing industries and also to being a source for fishers who become victims of modern slavery aboard foreign-flagged vessels that fish in their waters. The third group identified through this analysis comprises countries considered to be at low risk of modern slavery in their national fisheries. Countries in this group include Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and the US and are characterised by low levels of unreported catch, high value catches, and high per capita GDP.
While country of origin is an indicator of risk, in reality seafood sold to consumers is typically a mix of domestic and imported product and it can be difficult to distinguish between the two. Analysis of seafood imports to Europe and the US suggests that when imported and domestically caught fish are combined in local markets, the risk of purchasing seafood contaminated with modern slavery increases approximately 8.
While the initial analysis was undertaken on the top 20 fishing countries, it is reasonable to assume that the results can be applied to all fishing countries. While not a confirmation of actual incidence of modern slavery in fishing, given the hidden and out of sight nature of this crime, modelling can provide important insights into likely pockets of risk that may have been previously unknown. These ratings were transformed into a ranking of low, medium, or high vulnerability to modern slavery in the fishing industry, according to both National Fisheries Policy and Wealth and Institutional Capacity.
Almost all countries either catch or consume fish, and fishing plays a pivotal role in the livelihoods of millions of people around the world. It is fundamental to the long-term sustainability of this industry to address issues of social justice and labour. Ensuring safe labour conditions involves not just the country to which a vessel is registered, but also the country in whose waters fishing occurs or where fishing occurs on the high seas, the regional fisheries management organisations , the home country of the fishers, and the countries in which fish are processed and consumed.
Governments and businesses need to focus on the following combination of strategies:. Minimum international standards for working conditions should be mandatory and enforced so that migrant workers can be sure of benefiting from employment in fishing. Presently, only 10 countries have ratified the convention. Government licensing of fishing rights or chartering of foreign-flagged vessels should consider known labour issues when granting access to national waters and incorporate audits of crew conditions into their general oversight and monitoring to ensure compliance with local laws and standards.
Registration of crew needs to be made mandatory for all industrial fishing vessels both in the countries fished and the country in which the vessel is registered, and verification of crew should be a standard component of the licensing of fishing vessels to operate. This needs to be backed up and monitored through inspection regimes — an approach that can be implemented both by governments but also by the businesses involved in the supply chain.
Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources
Forced labour, slavery, and debt bondage in the fishing industry clearly fall within the recognised definition of serious crime, undertaken by organised criminal groups. With an ever-increasing number of books being published, finding the precisely right titles for students, teachers and librarians alike is challenging. CLCD Suite of products invite users to explore the world of CLCD's Universe of Children's Books by letting them naturally follow topic-focused threads where they can dig into various themes and associated titles.
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