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MEPs Call for Thailand to Address Forced Labour in its Fishing Industry

13 March 2014

EU and THAILAND - The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) has welcomed a decisive European Parliament vote recommending that Thailand be required to address human trafficking and forced labour in its fishing industry as part of ongoing trade negotiations between the EU and Thailand.

The EU is Thailand’s third largest trading partner and Thailand is the EU’s third largest trading partner inside ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations), with trade between the EU and Thailand reaching nearly €32 billion in 2012. However, evidence of widespread human rights abuses and human trafficking in Thailand’s fishing industry has overshadowed the negotiations.

The resolution, proposed by President of the European Parliament Fisheries Committee (PECH) Gabriel Mato MEP, highlights that “The ILO and various NGOs have recently uncovered serious shortcomings with regard to social and labour conditions and respect for human rights in the Thai fishing industry.”

The resolution calls for Thailand to “respect, promote and implement internationally recognised labour standards…including those on forced labour and child labour.” It also calls for Thailand to be required to cooperate in fighting Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, citing the involvement of Thai-owned fishing vessels in IUU fishing in West Africa.

Steve Trent, Executive Director of EJF, said: “Our investigations have shown that there is an integral link between terrible abuses in the fishing sector and the mismanagement of Thailand’s fisheries. The abuses we have documented commonly occur on boats trying to maintain catches by going to sea for longer and fishing further away.”

“This decisive resolution by the European Parliament clearly demonstrates that any trade agreement with Thailand must be conditional on the Thai Government resolving the issues of human trafficking and human rights abuses in its fishing sector. Crucially, we need to see the Thai Government working towards a sustainable and ethical fishing industry and taking firm and decisive action against business owners and corrupt officials exploiting modern day slaves. Members of the European Parliament have sent a clear message that European consumers do not want seafood associated with slavery on their plates.”

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