ILO Project. Ship to Shore - Thai Fishing and Seafood Industry

International Labour Organization
The ILO Ship to Shore Rights Project aims to prevent and reduce forced labour, child labour and other unacceptable forms of work, and progressively eliminate the exploitation of workers, particularly migrant workers, in the Thai fishing and seafood processing sectors.

The project was due to run from 1 February 2016 to 31 July 2019. The four specific project objectives were to :

  • Strengthen the legal, policy and regulatory framework in the fishing and seafood sectors by raising labour standards and facilitating more legal migration into the seafood and fishing sectors.
  • Enhance the capacity of Government officers, including the labour inspectorate, to more effectively identify and take action against human trafficking and other labour rights abuses in the fishing and seafood processing sectors.
  • Improve compliance with the fundamental principles and rights at work (core labour standards) in the seafood and fishing industries through the implementation of the Good Labour Practices (GLP), and help scale up an effective complaints mechanism with increased awareness and ownership across the supply chain.
  • Enhance access to support services to workers and victims of labour abuses, including children, through engagement and empowerment of civil society organizations and trade unions.

Project outputs

Gap analysis of the Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188), and Thai national laws, regulations and other measures concerning conditions of work on board fishing vessels. 30 May 2017.  This gap analysis of C188 examines Thailand’s existing legal framework for work in fishing followed by a Section-by-Section analysis of the gaps between Thai law and the definitions, scope, general principles, and provisions of C. 188.

Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930, and the fishing and seafood processing industries in Thailand. 30 May 2017.  As a contribution to the overarching objective of strengthening Thailand’s legal and regulatory framework relevant to forced labour and trafficking in persons, in particular in the fishing and seafood industries, the research aims to assess the country’s existing laws and regulations, as well as their practical implementation, against two of the main international standards on forced labour, namely the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29), and the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (the Forced Labour Protocol).

Industry Agrees to New GLP Principles. October 2017. Leaders of seafood and fishing associations, government, unions, and civil society organizations pledged publicly to act out nine core elements of credible industry labour programmes. These include clear workplace standards, CEO-level commitment and dedicated labour staff, industry internal due diligence and remediation, engagement with workers and civil society, accountability mechanisms for high- and low-performers, and independent due diligence with public reporting on labour practices. Finally, the revised GLP will look for sourcing choices by downstream buyers–including overseas retailers–that reward good labour practices.

Report. Less is More: How Policy and Technology can Impact the Thai Labour Market for Work in Fishing. 27 December 2019.
This report demonstrates how simple vessel upgrades help purse seiner owners reduce labour demand and make their industry more sustainable. Installing simple hydraulic “power block” systems to help pull in nets (photo) has reduced crew size by 40% on board a reconfigured working Pattani purse seiner. An upgrade to the on-board fish refrigeration system preserved fish quality and has increased revenue per trip by 10%. With lower labour costs and higher earnings, net profits are expected to climb up to 59% in the second year after reconfiguration. Vessel owners can earn back the THB 1.75 million reconfiguration costs in just one year. These changes make immediate improvements in working conditions and wages possible.

Ship to Shore Rights videos. There are four films: how trade union organizing and CSO support for migrant workers have helped bring seafood processing workers and fishers to the centre of the debate over reform of the Thai fishing industry; ratification of the Forced Labour Protocol (P. 29); best practices for enforcement in fishing; and revised Good Labour Practices programme for the seafood industry.

KEY. Baseline research findings on fishers and seafood workers in Thailand. In 2017, to kick off the Ship to Shore Rights project, the ILO undertook a survey of 434 workers from across Thailand, with the goal of learning more about the country’s fishing, aquaculture, and seafood processing sectors. Participants, the majority of whom were migrants, were asked about recruitment practices, wages, hours, safety and health, support services, complaint mechanisms, living conditions, forced labour indicators, and legal compliance levels. Their evidence is included in a report, Baseline research findings on fishers and seafood workers in Thailand, published in April 2018, which also sets out the limited progress made to date, outlines major challenges remaining in the industry, and makes recommendations for more effective enforcement of Thai law to prevent and end unfair labour practices for migrant workers. The data will be used as a benchmark and compared with information collected at the end of the project.

KEY. Endline research findings on fishers and seafood workers in Thailand. March 2020. The endline report has found improvements in working conditions in Thailand’s fishing and seafood processing sectors. However, there remain problems with forced labor in the industry. The endline research surveyed 219 fishermen and 251 seafood processing workers and compared the results with its “baseline” study, conducted in 2018. The new research looked into Thailand’s recruitment, contracts, pay, working hours, safety, and worker organizing. The latest report found that recruitment through registered agents and brokers has been reduced, which helps lessen the burden of high fees on workers.

Significance for seafood businesses: 

A significant programme in Thailand. This is the International Labour Organization (ILO) working in partnership with Thailand’s Ministry of Labour and the European Union.

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