Thomas Nugroho

Searcing and Serving The Best

 

Rats, Waves, Forced Labor: A Reporter’s Life on the Lawless Ocean

 

Migrant fisherman working at night on a Thai boat.

By Ian Urbina (Retrieved July 27, 2015 10:06 am)

For five weeks last year Adam Dean, a photographer, and I reported on fishing boats in the South China Sea and in Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian port towns for a story about forced labor in the fishing industry.

Our goal was to get as far from shore as possible onto the long haul boats, which are becoming more common globally as the number of fish near land dwindles. These boats are virtually never accessed by outsiders and, as a result, they are reputed to have more extreme working conditions.

Getting onto these boats was not easy. Most of the fishermen at the wharves we visited declined to take us on board. The only ones who would consider it refused to allow us to embark at port. No one wants to be seen shuttling foreigners out to sea, they explained; the industry has a bad enough reputation already.

Eventually we got where we needed to go — nearly a hundred miles off the coast of Thailand — by hopscotching from boat to boat. One captain took us several dozen miles out. He radioed another friendly captain who took us out farther. And so on.

The captain who took us on the first leg of our trip agreed to let us on board as long as we promised to keep out of the crew’s way. The ship was a purse seiner (as opposed to a bottom trawler), which means it uses large nets to trap schools of mostly small, forage fish to be used in pet food and livestock feed.

The majority of Thai-flagged vessels in the South China Sea are worked by migrants who are trafficked illegally into the country. The cost of their trip becomes a debt that is sold to ship captains. Migrants typically stay on board the fishing boats, often against their will, until they have repaid their debts.

The purse seiner boat was dirty — and dangerous. The air inside smelled of diesel fumes and fish innards. Roaches scurried everywhere. When the ship pitched, the possibility of slipping and falling overboard was a deadly reality. An especially unfriendly dog took a particular disliking to us. Patrolling the middle deck, she lunged and snarled whenever we neared the wheelhouse.

Communicating with the crew was a lot like playing charades. Few of the men spoke English. Our translator split her time between Adam and me until she fell severely seasick after we hit choppy water, at which point she vomited whenever she tried to stand up.

Meals presented a reporting dilemma. We risked offending our hosts — and a chance to bond with them — if we declined the food they offered. On the other hand, partaking in their barely boiled squid and rice was an intestinal gamble.

Around 2 a.m. there came a lull in work, and virtually the entire crew disappeared into a tight room with a low ceiling maybe four feet from the floor. The men climbed into cramped, cocoon-like hammocks made of fishing nets and suspended from above. Adam and I guessed that the men preferred the hammocks because they swayed, soothingly like cradles, rolling with the ship. Having not slept for 48 hours, we decided to spread out on the floor.

We lay down under a hammock and went to sleep. I was awakened soon after by a jolt of adrenaline and the sickening sensation that a small creature was scampering up my leg. Trying to sit up, I slammed my head into the back of the man above me. My headlamp fell to the floor, turned on, and illuminated the dozens of rats that were scurrying across the floor. Some busied themselves cleaning the crew’s half-empty bowls; others looked like rioters looting stores as they darted in and out of crew duffel bags.

We moved outside to the upper deck, perched Indian-style, on top of a fish barrel and tried to sleep. We were awakened two hours later — at about 5 a.m. — when the captain blasted an air horn next to our perch. A few moments later, the crew was back on deck, spreading out their hammocks for the next netting.

 

Tantangan Menko Kemaritiman

 

Tantangan Menko Kemaritiman

by Thomas Nugroho

Janji Presiden Jokowi membangun sektor kemaritiman mulai sedikit terjawab dengan dibentuknya Kementerian Koordinator (Kemenko) Kemaritiman. Pembentukan kementerian ini sudah lama ditunggu karena keberadaan Kementerian Kelautan dan Perikanan (KKP) selama ini tidak menjawab tantangan pembangunan kemaritiman yang dimensinya amat luas.

Fokus KKP hanya ke pembangunan sektor perikanan dan konservasi sumber daya kelautan, sementara dimensi pembangunan kemaritiman meliputi kepelabuhanan dan transportasi laut, pertambangan dan energi, perikanan, pertahanan laut, serta wisata bahari dan jasa lingkungan kelautan lainnya. Kehadiran Kemenko Kemaritiman di Kabinet Kerja Presiden Jokowi memberikan harapan baru bahwa ada perhatian serius pemerintah dalam mengelola potensi kemaritiman secara terpadu.

Tujuan pembangunan maritim yang utama adalah menegakkan martabat dan kedaulatan negara atas wilayah laut dan kekayaan sumber daya di dalamnya, serta memperkokoh kesatuan antarwilayah kepulauan Nusantara. Pembangunan maritim sejatinya harus mampu mewujudkan pemerataan pembangunan antarpulau, termasuk pulau-pulau di wilayah perbatasan guna mengurangi atau bahkan menghapus disparitas pembangunan yang menyolok antarpulau.

Pembangunan maritim yang hendak dijalankan pemerintahan Jokowi akan menghadapi tantangan berat, terutama mengubah paradigma pembangunan nasional yang sejak Orde Baru cenderung berorientasi ke daratan.

Tantangan Kemenko kemaritiman adalah menyinergikan potensi kelembagaan dan aparatur negara di pusat dan daerah, serta berbagai kebijakan sektoral di bidang maritim. Kemenko Kemaritiman diharapkan mampu mendorong pembangunan kemaritiman sebagai arus utama pembangunan nasional.

Ada dua agenda strategis Kemenko Kemaritiman dalam waktu dekat, yaitu menentukan arah kebijakan nasional dan tata ruang kemaritiman. Dalam menjalankan dua agenda penting tersebut dibutuhkan koordinasi antarkementerian negara, terutama dengan Kemenko Perekonomian dan Badan Perencanaan Pembangunan Nasional (Bappenas). Pada level koordinasi, keberadaan Kemenko Kemaritiman sangat menentukan sebab akan berhadapan dengan kementerian dan lembaga negara yang sudah mapan.

Keseriusan dan konsistensi pemerintahan Jokowi dapat dilihat dari dua alternatif pilihan yang akan dijalankan Kemenko Kemaritiman, yaitu mengikuti atau menyesuaikan setting kebijakan Kemenko Perekonomian dan Bappenas; atau sebagai trendsetter dan penentu kebijakan ketika kementerian yang terkait akan mengikuti dan menyesuaikan dengan kebijakan kemaritiman nasional.

Kebijakan Kemaritiman
Kemaritiman memang tidak diatur khusus dalam undang-undang, tetapi termaktub dalam berbagai peraturan perundangan, misalnya tentang pelayaran, perikanan, wilayah negara, pertambangan, pariwisata, kelautan, kepelautan, kepelabuhanan, dan berbagai peraturan perundangan lainnya yang terkait hukum laut. Berbagai peraturan perundangan tersebut telah menjadi landasan kebijakan pembangunan maritim, tetapi bersifat parsial dan sektoral. Keberadaan Kemenko Kemaritiman amat penting guna mengendalikan pembangunan maritim agar terarah dan terpadu.

Kebijakan kemaritiman yang diharapkan adalah menjawab beberapa persoalan terkait kepentingan ekonomi sektoral di bidang maritim, keutuhan dan kedaulatan wilayah negara, kelestarian sumber daya dan lingkungan, serta penyelesaian konflik sosial akibat pemanfaatan ruang laut yang sama dengan kepentingan yang berbeda. Penanganan berbagai persoalan tersebut memerlukan kebijakan teritorial yang jelas dan tepat.

Persoalan kemaritiman memiliki dimensi internal dan eksternal yang membutuhkan perhatian serius pemerintah. Dimensi internal menyangkut pengelolaan perairan laut teritorial dan aktivitas di dalamnya untuk kepentingan dalam negeri. Sementara itu, dimensi eksternal menyangkut pengelolaan yurisdiksi wilayah laut negara yang terkait kerja sama bahkan konflik dengan negara lain.

Dalam konteks dimensi eksternal, pemerintah harus hadir dan bertanggung jawab terhadap risiko lingkungan yang ditimbulkan. Caranya dengan melaksanakan konservasi dan proteksi sumber daya hayati laut, serta menjaga keutuhan dan kedaulatan wilayah negara.

Masalah kemaritiman juga bersifat terbuka dan lintas batas (cross-border), seperti isu lingkungan laut, pengelolaan sumber daya hayati laut yang bermigrasi sangat jauh, pelayaran komersial, dan aktivitas kepelabuhanan. Untuk merespons berbagai persoalan tersebut, pemerintah dapat menjalankan dua model kebijakan kemaritiman.

Pertama, berbagi kekuatan (power sharing) secara politik dan ekonomi dengan negara-negara lain untuk mengatasi persoalan kemaritiman yang bersifat internasional. Kedua, berbagi peran dengan stakeholder yang meliputi organisasi supranasional, seperti lembaga swadaya masyarakat (LSM), perguruan tinggi, swasta, dan pergerakan sosial lainnya yang ada dalam masyarakat. Sementara itu, formulasi kebijakan kemaritiman dapat dikembangkan melalui pendekatan unilateral terkait dengan geopolitik dan keamanan nasional; serta pendekatan transnasional terkait kerja sama antarnegara dan antarlembaga nonpemerintah.

Prioritas Kebijakan
Janji Presiden Jokowi menjadikan Indonesia poros maritim dunia sulit diwujudkan apabila pemerintah tidak berprioritas dan bertujuan jelas selama masa pemerintahannya. Setidaknya, ada tiga indikator untuk dapat mewujudkan mimpi presiden tersebut.

Pertama, biaya transaksi perdagangan antarpulau di Indonesia relatif lebih murah dibandingkan di negara lain. Gagasan tol laut dan peningkatan pelayanan kepelabuhan nasional sesuai standar internasional menjadi prioritas kerja pemerintah. Sudah saatnya Indonesia tidak tergantung dengan negara lain, seperti Singapura, dalam pelayaran komersial internasional.

Caranya dengan membangun dan/atau meningkatkan status pelabuhan nasional yang ada menjadi pelabuhan komersial utama (hub port). Di samping itu, pemerintah perlu meningkatkan frekuensi jalur pelayaran yang ada, serta membuka jalur pelayaran baru untuk meningkatkan aksesibilitas masyarakat terutama di wilayah yang sulit terjangkau.

Kedua, kepastian hukum dalam investasi dan pemanfaatan ruang maritim. Kebijakan penataan ruang maritim dengan berbagai kepentingan yang berbeda merupakan agenda penting dan prioritas kerja Kemenko Kemaritiman. Penataan ruang maritim meliputi pengaturan pemanfaatan ruang untuk kepentingan nasional dan internasional. Kebijakan tersebut pun dapat menjadi agenda legislasi nasional.

Ketiga, keamanan maritim. Keamanan maritim selalu mendapat perhatian serius pemerintah, tetapi tidak mudah dalam melakukan tindakan pengawasan. Ini mengingat wilayah perairan laut Indonesia sangat luas. Meskipun berbagai tindakan pengawasan di perairan laut telah dilakukan aparat negara, seperti TNI AL, Polri, dan unit-unit khusus yang ada di beberapa kementerian; masih sering terjadi berbagai tindakan kriminal dan tindakan lain yang merugikan dan mengancam kedaulatan negara, terutama di perairan laut dan pulau-pulau kecil di perbatasan. Hal tersebut terjadi karena minimnya kerja sama dan partisipasi masyarakat bersama aparat dalam pengamanan maritim.

Agenda prioritas pemerintah adalah meningkatkan kerja sama dan partisipasi masyarakat, di samping perlu menyatukan kekuatan pengawasan maritim menjadi satu wadah yang disebut coastguard. Infrastruktur pengawasan di wilayah perbatasan pun perlu dibangun dan ditingkatkan. Hal lain yang penting adalah memakmurkan kehidupan masyarakat di perbatasan, yaitu dengan membangun infrastruktur dan pelayanan berkualitas, seperti pendidikan dan kesehatan.

Untuk mendorong para pemuda, mahasiswa, akademikus, dan ilmuwan mengunjungi wilayah perbatasan, perlu dibangun pusat-pusat penelitian, serta pendidikan dan latihan. Ini khususnya terkait bidang kemaritiman.

Keberadaan Kemenko Kemaritiman menjadi tumpuan dan harapan masyarakat agar janji Presiden Jokowi dapat dipenuhi. Tidak hanya itu, kegagalan Kemenko Kemaritiman dalam melaksanakan mandatnya akan menjadi bumerang bagi karier politik Presiden Jokowi. Jika demikian, mimpi Indonesia untuk menjadi poros maritim hanyalah utopia. Semoga tidak demikian!

Sumber : Sinar Harapan

 

Laju Degradasi Sumber Daya Ikan Tongkol Abu-abu (thunnus Tonggol) di perairan Pantura Kabupaten Indramayu Jawa Barat

 

Laju Degradasi Sumber Daya Ikan Tongkol Abu-abu (thunnus Tonggol) di perairan Pantura Kabupaten Indramayu Jawa Barat

Pengarang Lugas Lukmanul Hakim ; Rega Permana ;
Institusi universitas padjadjaran
Tahun Terbit 2015
Kode Panggil 339.5/WWF/S
Subyek sumber daya ikan tongkol abu-abu
Lokasi Perpustakaan LP2T Denpasar
Descriptor Kiroan
Daftar Pustaka

 

Master plan of Marine Technopark in Nunukan North Kalimantan

 

Marine Technopark

Penanggungjawab:
Dr Ir Prastowo, MEng
(Ketua LPPM – IPB)

Tim Peneliti
Dr Ir M. Fedi A. Sondita, MSc
(Koordinator Tim, merangkap Tenaga Ahli Industri Perikanan Tangkap)

Thomas Nugroho, SPi, MSi
(Tenaga Ahli Sosial Ekonomi Perikanan)

Dr Ir Sugeng Hari Suseno, MSc
(Tenaga Ahli Industri Pascapanen Perikanan)

Dr Ir Eddy Supriyono, MSc
(Tenaga Ahli Industri Perikanan Budidaya)

Roni Wijaya, SP, MSc
(Tenaga Ahli Planologi/Lansekap)

On going til November 2015

 

Sold from a jungle camp to Thailand’s fishing industry: ‘I saw 13 people die’

 

Hussein twice lived through the horror of Thai trafficking camps, sold by brokers to boats and working in terrible conditions at sea for four years without setting foot on land, in the service of the country’s multibillion-dollar seafood industry

Source : http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jul/20/sold-from-jungle-camp-thailand-fishing-industry-trafficking (retrieved 22/07/2015)

Hussein* was only 16 when he first experienced the jungle camps of southern Thailand. These were places of torture, rape and death, the holding pens of a vast transnational trafficking industry preying on the desperation and isolation of thousands of stateless Rohingya.

Hussein lived through the horrors of these trafficking camps not once, but twice. Now living in the relative safety of Malaysia, his voice still cracks and breaks when he recounts what he witnessed there.

“In total, I saw 13 people die,” he says. “There was a river by the camp which was used as a toilet and some people drank that water. Those who could not pay [a ransom] were tortured by the brokers.”

The second time he was held in the jungle, he was among groups of young migrants forced to dig a mass graves for corpses of those who had died or been killed.

When his family were unable to pay a ransom, the teenager was taken by truck from the jungle to Songkhla, in southern Thailand. At the port he was handed to a boat captain and taken on to a fishing boat flying the Thai flag. He wouldn’t set foot on land again for four years.

Those who could not pay [a ransom] were tortured by the brokers
Hussein*

Hussein is one of hundreds of Rohingya migrants believed to have been sold from the trafficking camps over the past decade to crew boats that service Thailand’s $7.8bn seafood industry.

One year on from the Guardian’s revelations about the slavery in the supply chains of prawns from Thailand sold in supermarkets in the UK and around the world, a new investigation has traced the supply chain from the decks of the slave boats back to a network of Rohingya trafficking camps and mass graves snaking across south-east Asia.

In these jungle base camps, until as recently as this year, Thai fishing boats provided a lucrative secondary revenue stream for the highly organised and ruthless criminal gangs profiting from the plight of the stateless Rohingya people fleeing persecution and violence in Burma.

Survivors have told the Guardian of how men were routinely sold into forced labour by traffickers intent on maximising profits wherever they could.

“They sold people to the fishing boats or to work for hard labour,” said one man, who did not want to be identified. “They sold people wherever they could get money.”

The prospect of being sold on to a boat was used to terrify migrants into raising up to a thousand pounds in ransom payments from their families.

Survivors have described how men were routinely sold into forced labour by traffickers intent on maximising profits

“They told us [in the camps] every day, ‘If you are sold to the fishing boats, you will never see the shore again!’” one Rohingya survivor said. “When they said that, we got really scared.”

The selling of men as slave labour on to Thai fishing boats was good business for those involved. In a humid hotel room in Bangkok, a low-level broker describes personally selling more than 100 Rohingya on to fishing vessels.

“If they don’t look so healthy, they are not usually worth a lot of money,” he said. “The boat owners prefer the healthy, tall ones, because the work is quite hard. [The Rohingya] don’t want to go on the boats [but] they have to. [The boat owners] pay for them – I get about 30,000 baht [$900] per person.”

“I don’t feel good about it. They wouldn’t look at me,” he says.

A low-level broker describes personally selling more than 100 Rohingya on to fishing vessels

Life on the boats was brutal. “We were sold on to a fishing boat by a broker even after we got 15,000 Thai baht from our relatives [for our release],” one man said. “The broker got 25,000 or 30,000 baht [$900] for each person. We had to work nine months in that boat. We were beaten…[they] kicked our foreheads with shoes and beat us brutally in the boat. Only a Thai man protected us, otherwise we would have been killed at sea.”

In some cases, it was the Thai authorities who brokered the deals with the boat captains. Another Rohingya man, now also living in Malaysia, spoke of how he was sold by immigration officials into slavery on a fishing boat in Ranong, western Thailand.
Thai slavery at sea video survivor
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‘When I was in the jungle camp, 50 to 60 people died within one and a half months’ … a trafficking camp survivor. Photograph: Chris Kelly

“We were forced to work 22-hour days,” he said. “If we slept, we were beaten. Once, my friend was beaten so badly they broke his legs and [he] couldn’t walk. He died ten 10 days later.”

The scope and scale of the lucrative and sophisticated human trafficking networks that have grown up to exploit and profit from the plight of the Rohingya has been emerging over the past months.

Rohingya have been trafficked into Thailand and Malaysia from Burma for decades, fleeing state-sanctioned persecution and extreme deprivation. An estimated 100,000 Rohingya have fled the Bay of Bengal in the last three years, with more than 25,000 Rohingya and Bangladeshis boarding smugglers’ boats in the first three months of 2015 alone.

In May, footage of starving Rohingya refugees, abandoned by their traffickers on sinking vessels and initially refused permission to land by Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, brought international attention to the human rights catastrophe unfolding across Asia.

The discovery of a string of abandoned trafficking camps in Thailand and Malaysia, with their barbed wire cages and isolation cells, and the exhumation of mass graves containing the bodies of Rohingya migrants, followed shortly after.

The Guardian was shown a boat that had been converted to carry people rather than fish – up to 400 people at a time

Faced with mounting international condemnation, the Thai government set a deadline of 10 days to close down the remaining camps and stop the trafficking operations. It now insists human traffickers no longer operate within its borders.

At the same time, it is also pushing through a series of wide-reaching reforms in its fishing industry after the EU threatened to ban all imports of Thai seafood if the industry didn’t clean up its act; a move that could cost Thailand almost €1bn .

Thailand’s global fish exports were valued at $7.8bn in 2013. Last year, $717m of Thai fish exports – weighing 146,000 tonnes – were destined for European tables, where it made up more than 3% of the continent’s fish imports.

For boat captains, these reforms means potential ruin. They say they will be unable to earn a living if the government forces them to comply with new regulations aimed at eradicating illegal fishing, including registering all migrant workers. In a fishing port in Songkhla, posters protesting against the reforms hang from every wall. One reads, “Do not destroy fishermen just for the sake of profit-making and foreigners. Stop harming fishermen. We want justice.”

In Ranong, fishermen, who are also faced with increasingly empty nets after decades of overfishing and environmental destruction, say they have no choice but to turn to another kind of business – human trafficking.

The Guardian was shown a boat that had been converted to carry people rather than fish. This one boat can now carry up to 400 people at a time.

“Right now … it’s really hard to find fish in the Gulf of Thailand. When this kind of job comes along it can make me money,” the boat owner said, “The more people you carry, the more money you get.”
fish
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For boat captains in Thailand, the fishing industry reforms mean potential ruin. Photograph: Chris Kelly

Rohingya migrants in Malaysia also spoke of a grim evolution in the trade and exploitation of vulnerable migrants making their way across the open sea from Burma.

As their jungle camps are shut down, trafficking syndicates are reportedly taking their operations off-shore to huge multi-storey cargo ships acting as holding pens for thousands of Rohingya.

One woman told us how the smuggling boat she was travelling on was hijacked by armed men as they made their way from Burma across the open sea.

“They pointed guns at my children and said, ‘Don’t move. Don’t speak or we will shoot,’” she said. “The big boat was built like a holding camp. We had to sleep on top of each other.”

The off-shore boat prisons are allegedly being facilitated by Thai fishing boats.

“[The trafficking ship] was surrounded by fishing boats,” she said. “The boats would phone the big ship then it would move. When people died on the big boat, the dead bodies were taken away by the fishing boats.”

For now, boat captains say many of the smuggling rings and trafficking syndicates have gone to ground as the Thai and Malaysian authorities continue to make a public display of their efforts to rid their waters of this now very-public blight on their international reputation.

Yet human rights groups in the region are warning that not enough has been done to prevent the trafficking of Rohingya from continuing unabated once the pressure subsides.

“State policies of persecution [against the Rohingya]… are continuing,” says Matthew Smith, director of human rights group Fortify Rights. “As long as that’s happening, people are going to flee their homes … and they’re going to take to the seas because they see that’s the only option they have.”

The following months could also prove decisive for Thailand’s fishing sector, as it works to convince valuable trading partners that it is serious about reforming an export industry increasingly seen to be built on slavery, environmental destruction and illegal practices.

Siddharth Kara, a Harvard economist and world expert on modern slavery and human trafficking, believes that the fate of Thailand’s fishing industry now hangs in the balance.

“As the industry has evolved across the last several decades the sad truth is forced labour has become fundamental to the economic logic of the Thai seafood sector,” he says. “If you suddenly strip out forced labour an industry can fall apart … and maybe it should.”

*Identities protected

 

Supermarket giants in Thailand for prawn slavery talks

 

Morrisons and Tesco join Oxfam and others to create a taskforce to tackle slavery and trafficking in the seafood industry

Source : http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jul/30/supermarkets-thailand-prawn-slavery-seafood (retrieved 22/07/2015)

UK and US supermarket groups are meeting in Thailand this week to create a taskforce to tackle trafficking and forced labour in the shrimp feed industry.

The talks follow a Guardian investigation last month that uncovered slavery in the supply chains of Thai seafood sold to major international retail brands.

The three-day meeting will be hosted by Charoen Pokphand (CP) Foods, the world’s largest prawn farmer, which the Guardian found buys fishmeal from suppliers that own, operate or buy from fishing boards manned with slaves.

Morrisons, Tesco and Costco US, which buy farmed shrimp from CP Foods, are among the retailers expected to attend the talks with Thai government representatives. Several international catering and food-service firms including Sodexo, Brakes as well as campaigners from Oxfam and the Environmental Justice Foundation will be among the attendees.

CP Foods acted after several retailers, including Whole Foods and Carrefour, pulled out of CP contracts in Thailand after the revelations.

The six-month inquiry into Thailand’s seafood industry found slavery was helping to fuel one of the country’s major export economies, and that men were being bought and sold like cattle and kept against their will on ships for years without pay and under the threat of violence.

The aim of the meeting is to agree on the terms of an industry action group, which will work with CP Foods to establish a global benchmark in sustainable shrimp-feed production. It will also help the Thai government create a strategy to halt human trafficking and forced labour in the seafood supply chain.

According to sources, in addition to meetings in Bangkok with senior Thai officials, activities will include trips to CP Foods’ fish-feed factories and new production lines as well as to the southern coastal province of Songkhla to talk to fishing boat owners to get “real feedback from the ground”.

“A number of suppliers are meeting CP this week to ensure that our concerns are being addressed,” Morrisons said. “We’ll also be meeting with other suppliers in the area to ensure collaboration rather than duplication of effort.”

Sodexo said it was attending the meeting to better understand CP’s food supply chain and measures being taken to improve labour conditions in the Thai seafood industry.

 

Labour call to stop UK supermarkets stocking food produced by slaves

 

It is up to consumers whether they eat prawns processed in Thailand using slave labour, says Cameron’s spokesman

Source : http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jun/11/slavery-prawns-thailand-supermarkets-labour (retrieved 22/07/2015)

Labour has called on the government to stop UK supermarkets stocking food produced by slaves, after a Guardian investigation into forced labour in the Thai seafood industry.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said the coalition’s modern slavery bill did not go far enough to turn up the pressure on UK retailers to shun products linked to forced labour. The opposition is pushing for new requirements on firms to declare any use of slavery in their supply chains but the government prefers a voluntary approach.

David Cameron’s spokesman said on Wednesday it was up to consumers whether they choose to eat prawns that had been produced through the work of slaves.

The Guardian revealed on Tuesday that slavery is integral to the production of prawns available in leading global supermarkets including Tesco, Walmart, Costco and Carrefour.

Its six-month investigation discovered that slaves are being forced to work in Asia for no pay for years at a time, under threat of extreme violence, in the production of seafood sold by major US, British and other European retailers.

“The allegations in this investigation are shocking,” said Cooper. “Trafficking people into slavery is an abhorrent crime and the international community should work together to stamp it out entirely. We have called for greater transparency in supply chains to ensure products that have been produced through forced labour do not end up on our shelves. The government’s modern slavery bill doesn’t go far enough to address this and we will be pushing for changes to ensure companies are more accountable for the actions of those in their supply chain.”

Frank Field, the Labour MP who chaired the parliamentary committee on the slavery bill, said supermarkets must “immediately cease” using suppliers linked to seafood slavery.

He also blamed Downing Street for resisting new reporting requirements for fear of increasing red tape, even though most companies are not opposed to the transparency initiative.

“It was clearly the home secretary’s wish to include a supply chain clause because she wrote about this, but that wish is being blocked,” said Field. “It is coming from No 10. There is a perceived belief what business wants without actually knowing. We marshalled a huge amount of support from business for a supply chain clause. If they paid a bit of attention they would know most business wanted them to do this.”

There would be a “huge effort” in the Commons and Lords to introduce amendments about slavery in supply chains, Field added.

Lady Butler-Sloss, a former senior judge who also sat on the committee, said the Guardian’s investigation underlined the need for action on slavery in company supply chains.

Butler-Sloss, a trustee of the Human Trafficking Foundation, said: “The government has come a very long way on the bill and I am absolutely delighted it is being passed, but so far as the supply chain is concerned it is very weak. The brilliant detective work by the Guardian is a very good example of why actually we need the quite modest amendment we recommended, which is to add modern slavery to human rights in the Companies Act.”

A Home Office spokeswoman said slavery was not a problem that can be solved by legislation alone or by the end of the parliament. “It needs the engagement and long term commitment of all sections of society,” she said. “Companies have a social responsibility to ensure that those they do business with are not involved in the exploitation of others. If businesses take no action they risk both their reputation and profit.

“Today, the home secretary and minister for modern slavery Karen Bradley, have hosted a roundtable with key business leaders to look at how the government can work with businesses to eliminate forced labour and exploitation from supply chains.”

In contrast to the reaction of the US, which is considering blacklisting Thailand over slavery in its seafood industry, Downing Street indicated on Wednesday that it preferred to leave the matter to the choice of shoppers.

Asked whether supermarkets should stop stocking seafood produced with the help of forced labour, Cameron’s spokesman said: “Consumer standards and retail standards and social responsibility is often driven by consumers and rightly so.”

He could not say whether Cameron himself would be happy to eat prawns where slavery had been used in their production.

The Home Office said it took the issue extremely seriously and had not ruled out legislating to make reporting requirements tougher for companies. Theresa May, the home secretary, is meeting business leaders on Wednesday to discuss eradicating slavery from supply chains. However, it is understood the voluntary approach is favoured at present.

The government is bringing in new penalties to deter modern slavery through the bill unveiled in the Queen’s speech, but this has been criticised for its narrow focus on slavery in the UK and failure to tackle the problem of goods produced through slavery abroad.

However, the Home Office said the government wanted to work collaboratively with businesses to support them to eliminate forced labour in supply chains “in a way which does not place additional burdens on them”.

It also pointed out that the EU was likely to enact new laws in 2016 forcing companies to report on human rights in their “business relationships”, which could mean an expectation on firms to audit their supply chains for signs of slavery.

“In taking any further action in this area, the government is, therefore, mindful of existing requirements on business and possible future changes to the business reporting regime,” the Home Office said.

“We intend to build on the existing legislative framework, and work with business to establish what more can be done to raise awareness among their workforce and their subcontractors, and develop an evidence base on best practice. The home secretary is meeting with business leaders in June to help assess the most effective way forward.

“In doing so, we recognise the complexity of supply chain issues, particularly where they involve links with business overseas and where the influence of UK-based companies is diminished. Cross-government action is being taken to bring businesses together to discuss the challenges and opportunities in tackling modern slavery in supply chains.”

 

Prawns sold in Australia linked to alleged slavery in Thai fishing industry

 

The Australian arm of prawn farmer Charoen Pokphand Foods denounces slavery and promises audit of its supply chain

Source : http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jun/12/prawns-sold-in-australia-linked-to-alleged-slavery-in-thai-fishing-industry (Retrieved 22/07/2015)

The Australian arm of a seafood company alleged to have slavery in its supply chain has circulated a statement addressing concerns raised by a Guardian UK investigation, saying the entire operation would be audited.

On Tuesday the Guardian revealed the world’s largest prawn farmer, Thailand-based Charoen Pokphand (CP) Foods, buys fishmeal, which it feeds to its farmed prawns, from some suppliers that own, operate or buy from fishing boats manned with slaves.

“A six-month investigation has established that large numbers of men bought and sold like animals and held against their will on fishing boats off Thailand are integral to the production of prawns (commonly called shrimp in the US) sold in leading supermarkets around the world, including the top four global retailers: Walmart, Carrefour, Costco and Tesco,” the Guardian reported.

In 2012, CP Foods opened a Melbourne office, and according to its official Facebook page the brand’s “Authentic Asia” range of frozen meals are supplied to Woolworths, Costco, 7-Eleven and selected IGA stores.

The group’s general manager for Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands, Richard Lovell, circulated a statement on Thursday afternoon from CP Foods’ headquarters in Thailand.

“Fundamentally CP believes that from factory to fishing boat each and every person who works for CP, with CP as a supplier or through any part of CP’s supply chain must, as an absolute minimum be treated fairly and with dignity at all times,” the statement said.

“To this end we are currently in the process of auditing our entire operation so that we can denounce slavery across each and every aspect of our supply chain.”

Long-term the company would commit to tightening the control of fishmeal procurement in order to clamp down on illegal, unregulated and uncertified fishing, the statement said.

“CP are the only representatives of the entire industry who have been prepared to face the cameras and answer questions,” it added.

The regional marketing manager of Costco Wholesale in Australia, Kyla White, said the company had reviewed Guardian UK reports concerning labour abuses in the Thai fishing industry.

The agreements that Costco Wholesale had with its suppliers prohibited the use of slave labour and other violations of labour law, she said.

“We are committed to working with our suppliers of Thai shrimp to require them to take corrective action to police their feedstock sources with respect to poor labour practices,” she said.

“This commitment so far has involved visits by our buying staff to Thailand and discussions with the Thai government, our suppliers and other industry participants.”

The communications manager of 7-Eleven, Tracy Hammon, said the chain currently carried one CP Foods product. “However, as part of our normal range review process, we have recently decided to stop ranging this product as it does not meet sales benchmarks,” she said. “We are therefore in the processing of exiting the remaining volume of this one product from our stores.”

Woolworths and IGA have not yet responded to requests for comment from Guardian Australia.

The Seafood Importers Association of Australia executive chairman, Norman Grant, said it was extremely unlikely that any seafood products from Asia on sale for human consumption in Australia would be from sources where workers had been trafficked or mistreated.

“That’s largely because most of the seafood Australia imports from Asia comes from aquaculture, not wild catch,” Grant said. “Hence, not directly from Thai fishing boats – the sector where most serious abuse cases now occur.”

The association had been working for many years to find solutions to the enormous social problems faced by Thailand in dealing with millions of immigrant workers, many of whom are illegal and find employment in seafood-related sectors such as processing factories, he said.

Members of the association are asked to seek written assurance that their suppliers comply with local labour laws, are signed on to industry conventions and initiatives on labour welfare, and provide evidence of a systematic approach to ensuring supply chains are free of labour abuse.

Grant said the association took the issue of slave labour seriously, but also pointed out the problems faced by Thailand such as immigration across vast geographical areas, borders and oceans.

“Thailand has essentially been left to sort this out by itself, under the spotlight of an unforgiving and largely unhelpful western consumer morality,” he said.

 

Walmart, Tesco and Costco among retailers responding to revelations of slavery in prawn supply chains

 

Global retailers condemn human trafficking, with some saying they were aware of reports of slavery and are trying to tackle it

Source : http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jun/10/walmart-tesco-costco-retailers-respond-prawn-supply-slaves (retrieved 22/07/2015)

The Thai food giant CP Foods says it sells prawns to many leading supermarkets in the US, UK and across Europe.

The Guardian identified several of its customers and traced CP prawns to all of the top four global retailers – Walmart, Carrefour, Costco and Tesco – and other big-name supermarkets including Morrisons, the Co-operative, Aldi and Iceland.

We asked those named in our investigation to comment on our finding of slavery in their supply chains.

All said they condemned slavery and human trafficking for labour and conducted rigorous social audits. Some appeared already aware that slavery had been reported in the Thai fishing sector and said they were setting up programmes to try to tackle it.

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, said: “We are actively engaged in this issue and playing an important role in bringing together stakeholders to help eradicate human trafficking from Thailand’s seafood export sector.”

Carrefour said it conducts social audits of all suppliers, including the CP factory that supplies it with some prawns. It tightened up the process after alerts in 2012. It admitted that it did not check right to the end of its complex chains.

Costco told us it required its suppliers of Thai shrimp “to take corrective action to police their feedstock sources”.

Tesco said: “We regard slavery as completely unacceptable. We are working with CP Foods to ensure the supply chain is slavery-free, and are also working in partnership with the International Labour Organisation and Ethical Trading Initiative to achieve broader change across the Thai fishing industry.”

Morrisons said it would take the matter up with CP Foods urgently. “We are concerned by the findings of the investigation. Our ethical trading policy forbids the use of forced labour by suppliers and their suppliers.”

The Co-operative was among those claiming it was already working to understand “working conditions beyond the processing level”. “The serious issue of human trafficking on fishing boats is challenging to address and requires a partnership” in which it is actively engaged, it said.

Aldi UK said its contractual terms stipulate that suppliers do not engage in any form of forced labour. “Aldi will not tolerate workplace practices and conditions which violate basic human rights.”

Iceland said it only sourced one line containing prawns from a CP Foods subsidiary but was pleased to note that CP was “at the forefront of efforts to raise standards in the Thai fishing industry”.

The supermarket sector has been aware of conditions on some Thai fishing vessels for a while, thanks to reports from the UN and NGOs. In a 2009 survey by the UN inter-agency project on human trafficking (UNIAP) 59% of migrants who had been trafficked on to Thai fishing boats said they had seen the murder of a fellow worker.

The Environmental Justice Foundation also reported on slavery and forced labour imposed by violence on Thai trawlers and alleged police collusion.

Retailers have focused, however, on abuses that came to light further up the Thai prawn supply chain – in processing and packing factories or in companies subcontracted to peel prawns. It seems the parlous state of fish stocks and the pressure to monitor supply chains for sustainability has made the issue of slavery visible. Two retailers who did not wish to be named said that when they started to look at where fish for prawn feed was coming from, it became clear that the boats engaged in illegal fishing were also likely to be using trafficked forced labour.

Retailers have joined an initiative called Project Issara (Project Freedom) to discuss their response and several were at a meeting with producers in Bangkok at the end of last month at which slavery was discussed.

 

US may blacklist Thailand after prawn trade slavery revelations

 

Threat of sanctions unless Bangkok can sort its human trafficking trade, as Guardian investigation shows migrants enslaved on boats working in shrimp supply chain

Source : http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jun/11/us-blacklist-thailand-prawn-trade-slavery-revelations (retrieved 22/07/2015)

The US is considering downgrading Thailand on a human trafficking blacklist, following revelations in the Guardian that slaves are being used in the production of prawns sold in leading American, British and European supermarkets.

Washington will directly address allegations of human trafficking in Thailand’s trade in prawns – known in the US as shrimp – in an imminent report that could result in economic sanctions against Bangkok. The state department has confirmed it intends to review the country’s response to abuses such as migrants being bought by shipowners and forced to work as slaves for years at sea without pay.

The review, expected in the middle of this month, could result in Thailand being downgraded to the lowest level in a US system that ranks 188 nations according to their willingness and efforts to combat slavery and human trafficking. A relegation to tier three could trigger economic sanctions and loss of development aid, although such punishments can be waived under certain national security considerations.

“We are aware of the Guardian investigation,” said Luis CdeBaca, Washington’s Ambassador-at-Large for monitoring and combatting trafficking in persons, in a statement.

“We are currently finalising the 2014 Trafficking in Persons report, which will be released later this month, and will include an overview of human trafficking in Thailand and the Thai government’s efforts to address human trafficking.”

The annual Trafficking in Persons (TiP) report is considered to be the gold standard in global anti-trafficking efforts. Last year Thailand narrowly escaped relegation for the third year running and was told it would face an automatic downgrade this year if significant progress was not made to address issues of slavery and trafficking within its borders by the end of the year.

Last year, for the third year running, Thailand narrowly escaped relegation and was told it would face an automatic downgrade this year if significant progress was not made to address issues of slavery and trafficking within its borders by the end of the year.

“Under US law there is a time limit how many years a country can stay on the tier-2 watch list before it is automatically downgraded to tier 3,” said former US trafficking ambassador Mark Lagon, now a professor at Georgetown University.

“If the US government determines that Thailand has made improvements it can be raised up, but if it has not, there is no longer an opportunity to have any waivers or delay.”

Lagon said Thailand was at a “critical juncture” with the annual report due to be released within days and the country facing international “moral opprobrium” for receiving the lowest possible ranking.

He also paid tribute to The Guardian’s six month investigation into the Thai fishing industry, which uncovered horrific conditions, 20-hour shifts, regular beatings, torture and execution-style killings.

Fifteen migrant workers from Burma and Cambodia described to the Guardian how they had been enslaved, after paying brokers to help them find work in Thailand in factories or on building sites. They were sold instead to boat captains, sometimes for as little as $420 (£250).

“As important as the work of governments and the UN are revelations brought to light by journalists,” said Lagon. “They do affect governments: creditworthiness, commerce, trust in the seafood coming out of Thailand will all be affected by this.”

Although slavery is illegal everywhere in the world, including Thailand, the south-east Asian country is considered a major source, transit and destination country for slavery, where nearly half a million people are believed to be enslaved, according to the Global Slavery Index.

A tier-3 ranking would rank Thailand alongside Iran, North Korea and Saudi Arabia for categorically failing to comply with the most basic international requirements to prevent trafficking and protect victims.

A downgrade could also lead to restrictions on US foreign assistance and access to global institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

This week’s Guardian investigation uncovered slavery in the supply chains of farmed shrimp sold by major UK, US and European supermarkets and retailers, including Walmart, Carrefour, Costco, Tesco, Aldi, Coop, Morrisons and Iceland.