Thailand’s fishing industry is undergoing promising changes after years of international condemnation of “slavery, trafficking and violence on fishing boats and at onshore processing facilities” (Reuters 1). Following a threat from the European Union to ban Thai fishing exports, and scrutiny from the U.S. State Department, Thailand has toughened its related laws, penalties, and oversight capabilities (Reuters 1). On Wednesday, the Southeast Asian country ratified the International Labour Organization’s Work in Fishing Convention (ILO Convention 188), which sets standards for working conditions within fishing operations (Reuters 2). Thailand has made history as the first Asian nation to make the pledge.
The ILO Convention sets requirements for “occupational safety and health and medical care at sea and ashore, rest periods, written work agreements, and social security protection” (ILO). The move should be viewed with cautious optimism, as Thailand has yet to enact labor protections like the right to organize and the right to collective bargaining (Reuters 1). Furthermore, a U.N. report has found that the strides in fishing have overshadowed abhorrent worker conditions in other sectors (Reuters 3). Migrants, who comprise over 10% of the country’s workforce, are especially vulnerable to the exploitative labor practices in Thai industries (Reuters 3).
Tags: Human Trafficking, Thailand, fishing industry, working conditions, International Labour Organization