Taipei, Taiwan – New evidence released today links human rights abuses to Taiwan’s international fishing fleet, including major seafood trader Fong Chun Formosa Fishery Company (FCF). This has serious implications for its global supply chains, and exposes the ongoing failure of the Taiwan government’s approach to address human trafficking and labor abuse.
“Conducted over the course of more than a year, our investigations show that Taiwan’s fishery supply chain is still tainted by human rights abuses, despite the law change in early 2017 to protect migrant fishers on Taiwanese vessels,” said Yi Chiao Lee, Global Investigation Lead for the report at Greenpeace East Asia.
“This means there is high probability that tainted seafood is making its way into sushi shops and dinner plates in Asia, Europe and the Americas. There are no excuses. Taiwan’s seafood industry must now act urgently to eliminate these appalling practices.”
In the Greenpeace East Asia report, Misery at Sea, investigators from Taiwan and New Zealand found five members of the convicted human trafficking ring, Giant Ocean, living openly in Taiwan. Despite being considered fugitives, at least some of the individual members continue to be involved in the recruitment of migrant workers – predominantly from South East Asia – for Taiwanese fishing vessels, with the full knowledge and negligence of Taiwanese authorities.
In evidence provided by local Taiwanese labor rights group, Yilan Migrant Fishermen Union, shocking new photo and video material was uncovered relating to the death of Indonesian fisherman Supriyanto. A healthy and relatively young man, Supriyanto, died in agony just four months after starting work on the Taiwanese vessel, Fu Tsz Chiun. The harrowing images show Supriyanto had been beaten and abused, yet Taiwanese authorities failed to properly investigate his death and there was no prosecution but unconvincing conclusion. Despite his deteriorating condition, satellite data reveals that Fu Tsz Chiun continued with its business operations, including in the days immediately following his death. Taiwan’s Fisheries Agency claims he simply died from sickness.
In another investigation, prison-based interviews shine a new light on the 2016 murder of the Captain of the Vanuatu flagged Taiwanese owned vessel, Tunago No. 61. Speaking with the six convicted crew members, Greenpeace investigators learnt that in the days and months leading up to the Captain’s murder, the crew were frequently forced to work 20 hours a day and seven days a week, faced repeated physical violence and verbal abuse, sleep deprivation, a lack of adequate sustenance, discrimination, and were scared for their lives.
Misery at Sea analyses Taiwan’s low-cost business model and chronic flaws in legal and regulatory framework, which helps create an environment where cases of IUU fishing, human rights violations and labor abuse are all too common.
In 2015, Taiwan was given an EU “yellow card” warning for its insufficient cooperation in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which defy international standards. In September, EU officials will review Taiwan’s status and decide whether to lift the warning.
The report also looks into the role of FCF, which is one of the world’s big three traders, and has strong links to markets in Japan, Americas and Europe. FCF were implicated in two of the three cases, contradicting its corporate social responsibility, which states that it prohibits child labor, forced labor and other abuses on board vessels supplying FCF.
“The Taiwan government must guarantee in-depth investigations of such cases,” says Yi Chiao Lee. “It must put in place legislation that protects workers and human rights and ensure full implementation; and companies like FCF must urgently review their business models and put in place the means to ensure that human rights abuses and poor environmental standards endemic to parts of this industry are effectively eliminated.”
 The European Commision issues a “yellow card”, or warning, where a country that exports fish to the EU needs need to take strong action to fight IUU fishing. Failure to take strong action risks being identified as a non-cooperating country, which brings “red card” sanctions.
 A Greenpeace supply chain analysis has established FCF and FCN supply fish to the Japanese market, including サプライ, Toyo Reizo Co., Ltd (東洋冷藏株式会社), Yashima Suisan Co., Ltd. (八洲水産株式会社) , ITOCHU Corporation (伊藤忠), FCN, Kanetomo Co., Ltd (カネトモ), Nippon Suisan Kaisha, Ltd (日本水産), Marubun Suisan Kako (丸文水産株式会社)
Misery at Sea – Human suffering in Taiwan’s distant water fishing fleet
Photos and videos:
Shen Hsieh, Communications Officer, Greenpeace East Asia (Taiwan), (+886) 921 600 687, [email protected]
Yi Chiao Lee, Investigation Lead, Greenpeace East Asia (Taiwan), (+886) 2 2361 2351, [email protected]
Greenpeace International Press Desk, +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours), [email protected]
Nice work on exposing this travesty. This piece clearly shows that Greenpeace cares for more than just ecological objectives: social justice matters too. Well done!