Forced labour is rampant in the global seafood industry and, much too often, migrant workers on fishing vessels are trafficked and exploited to catch more fish than is legally allowed. The 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) identified 51 countries that either have trafficking in their fishing industries, are transit countries for trafficking people to be used as forced labour on fishing vessels, or have a high risk of trafficking in their fishing industries. This problem has grown too big to ignore for the USA, one of the largest consumers of seafood in the world.
IUF, ILRF, Greenpeace, Anti-Slavery International and a wide coalition of human rights organisations has sent a letter to the US President Barack Obama, calling upon him to protect workers in the seafood industry. Currently the Task Force he has established to eliminate illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is only dealing with environmental violations and ignoring the millions of workers whose rights and safety are blatantly undermined by unlawful industry practices. Under U.S. and international law, it is illegal to use forced labor and slavery to produce goods: the seafood industry should be no exception. It is critically important that purchases made in North America are not furthering the trafficking and exploitation of workers around the world. Murder, forced labour, slavery, beatings, and human trafficking should never be part of a job description.