Human Rights on Land and at Sea

Changing the way we treat our oceans isn’t just about the creatures that live in them, it’s about the people that depend on them. Globally, more than 3 billion people depend on our oceans and coastal environments for their livelihood.

Crew on Rusting Fishing Vessel - Defending Our Oceans Tour (West Africa: 2006)

Many commercial fishing boats do not pay their workers a living wage, forcing them to live in slave-like conditions. Major U.S.-based seafood companies, especially in the canned tuna industry, have been turning a blind eye for years.

© Greenpeace / Pierre Gleizes

In the U.S. alone, ocean-dependent industries like tourism and transportation provide jobs for more than 2.3 million people, while fishing employs more than 1.9 million people. Depleted fisheries and polluted coastlines are disrupting the lives of millions of people worldwide.

And at sea, human rights violations abound on commercial fishing boats. It’s estimated that 10 to 15 percent of commercial fishermen around worldwide work in slave-like conditions.

Holding Companies Responsible

As one of the world’s largest markets for seafood, U.S. businesses must take responsibility for what happens in their supply chains.

For starters, supermarkets and restaurants need to work with their suppliers to ensure that the fishermen providing their seafood are paid a living wage and treated humanely.

Targeting Tuna

The tuna industry has repeatedly failed consumers and fishermen across the globe on human rights. Fishermen on tuna boats—including those supplying household names like Chicken of the Sea, StarKist, and Bumble Bee—often work under unjust conditions and in some cases are beaten, abused and even enslaved on ships for months or years at a time.

Major tuna brands must be more transparent in their supply chains and ensure full traceability from sea to store shelvesUntil that happens, consumers cannot feel confident that their tuna is caught in a just and sustainable manner.

Watch and share these video testimonials from South Pacific tuna fishermen detailing the human rights abuses they’ve witnessed and experienced. 

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