Greenpeace USA Welcomes ASEAN Declaration Protecting Migrant Fishers
May 16, 2023
Greenpeace USA welcomes the landmark adoption of the ASEAN Declaration on the Placement and Protection of Migrant Fishers during the 42nd ASEAN Summit held in Indonesia. The declaration represents a crucial step toward protecting the rights of Southeast Asian migrant fishers and ending forced labor and human trafficking practices in the fishing industry. Migrant fishers from ASEAN countries make up a significant percentage of the crew on industrial fishing vessels.
© Adhi Wicaksono / Greenpeace
WASHINGTON, DC (May 16, 2023) – Greenpeace USA welcomes the landmark adoption of the ASEAN Declaration on the Placement and Protection of Migrant Fishers during the 42nd ASEAN Summit held in Indonesia. The declaration represents a crucial step toward protecting the rights of Southeast Asian migrant fishers and ending forced labor and human trafficking practices in the fishing industry. Migrant fishers from ASEAN countries make up a significant percentage of the crew on industrial fishing vessels.
Sari Heidenreich, Greenpeace USA’s Senior Human Rights Advisor, said: “The United States, as a major importer of seafood products, has an important role to play in ensuring that the workers who help seafood reach our plates are protected from human rights abuses. We applaud the adoption of the ASEAN Declaration as a step in the right direction to protect these workers. We call on the Biden administration to ensure that the declaration is not just a formality but an effective tool for protecting the lives and rights of migrant fishers. One key action would be to move with urgency to strengthen the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) by expanding it to include all species being imported to the United States and to gather labor indicators as part of this program.”
This declaration, which underscores the importance of protecting the rights and well-being of all workers, regardless of their origin or occupation, follows years of active campaigning by human rights advocates and civil society organizations in the region, including the Greenpeace network, to push for stronger policies to protect the rights of Southeast Asian migrants working in fisheries. Along with the declaration on migrant fishers’ placement and protection, the 42nd ASEAN Summit also issued two other declarations on The Protection of Migrant Workers and Family Members in Crisis Situations and Combating Trafficking in Persons Caused by The Abuse of Technology.
Heindenrich continued: “Workers everywhere deserve to thrive, not just survive, yet this is far from the case right now. We hope this momentum will lead to additional actions that improve worker protection, such as an increase in the number of countries ratifying the International Labour Organization (ILO) Work in Fishing Convention 188 (C-188), a vital step to ensuring decent working conditions on fishing vessels, particularly for countries that have large fishing fleets. ”
Investigations by Greenpeace Southeast and Greenpeace East Asia have shown that there is a high prevalence of human rights abuse and forced labor in the notoriously opaque seafood supply chain. This, along with government subsidies, keeps seafood prices artificially low. The value of the global tuna industry is expected to reach $49 billion by 2029. The U.S. accounts for the largest tuna market globally, with American supermarkets having a sizable share of the $42 billion in yearly sales generated by this sector.
In 2022, President Joe Biden directed federal agencies to use a whole of government approach to address forced labor and illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, noting that “left unchecked, IUU fishing and associated labor abuses undermine U.S. economic competitiveness, national security, fishery sustainability, and the livelihoods and human rights of fishers around the world and will exacerbate the environmental and socioeconomic effects of climate change.”
Contact: Tanya Brooks, Greenpeace USA Senior Communications Specialist, P: 703-342-9226, E: [email protected]
Greenpeace USA is part of a global network of independent campaigning organizations that use peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future. Greenpeace USA is committed to transforming the country’s unjust social, environmental, and economic systems from the ground up to address the climate crisis, advance racial justice, and build an economy that puts people first. Learn more at www.greenpeace.org/usa.