International Transport Workers’ Federation calls for moratorium on practice associated with labor abuse, illegal fishing

by Perry Wheeler

May 4, 2017

Washington, DC – The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has called for a moratorium on high seas transshipment by tuna long-line vessels in the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Thailand, and South China Sea until companies implement fair labor standards throughout their supply chains to protect fishers and seafarers. In its announcement, the federation noted that transshipment at sea helps to enable illegal fishing, human trafficking, extreme labor abuses, debt bondage, serious injuries, safety violations, and even murder.

ITF represents 4.5 million workers in over 150 countries. The federation includes well-known unions such as the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and UNITE HERE.

Greenpeace supports a moratorium on transshipment at sea for the tuna industry, and has campaigned on global canned tuna giant Thai Union to lead the way. In response to ITF’s announcement, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Oceans Campaign Manager Mark Dia said:

“It is a significant signal to the industry and seafood giants like Thai Union for ITF to call for a moratorium on transshipment on the high seas. ITF represents workers around the world, and it would be wise for a seafood industry that is riddled with labor issues to answer their calls.

“Transshipment allows unscrupulous operators to cut down on crew costs and, in the worst situations, enables slavery at sea. Transshipment means crews can be kept at sea for months or even years at a time without getting back to port, making it difficult – if not impossible – to report on, or to escape from, physical abuse, poor working conditions, violence and even murder on board fishing vessels.

“Ultimately, transshipment at sea allows entire fleets, long-line fishing vessels in particular, to operate out of sight, hide fish caught illegally, and fish relentlessly on the backs of an exploited workforce without taking breaks to return to port. It is time to address this practice for the benefit our oceans and the workers at sea who are subject to long hours and potential abuse.”


Contact: Perry Wheeler, Global Seafood Communications and Outreach Manager, P: 301-675-8766

Perry Wheeler

By Perry Wheeler

Perry Wheeler is a senior communications specialist at Greenpeace USA.

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