UK retailers sign up to project to tackle human trafficking in Thai fishing industry

8 September 2014

On 8 September 2014, a coalition of 10 UK retailers and seafood importers and IDH Sustainable Trade Initiative joined forces with Project Issara to launch a pilot project in Thailand to identify and address risks of human trafficking and labour abuses in their seafood supply chains.

The private sector partners included retailers Asda, Marks and Spencer, The Co-operative Food, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Waitrose, and seafood importers CP Foods UK, Lyons Seafoods, Sea-Farms, and Young’s Seafood.  The first step in the launch of the project was to engage top-tier Thai seafood exporters including CP Foods, Kingfisher, Seafresh, and Thai Union, who will in turn engage other local businesses in their supply chain including aquaculture farms, fishmeal plants, and fishing companies.

A field team comprised of specialists from Anti-Slavery International and Emerging Markets Consulting will work with the businesses on an ongoing basis to assess and address risks in labour recruitment and management processes in the supply chain.  Project Issara’s multi-lingual migrant worker hotline and migrant community networks will ensure that migrant worker voices contribute to improvement plans.

The pilot also includes a Victim Support Fund, which will provide resources for medical, psychosocial, legal, educational, and economic support for victims of labour abuses and trafficking who are identified.  In line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (Ruggie Principles) and good practice in human rights impact assessment, this model of proactive private sector engagement will substantively engage migrant workers; enhance collaboration between business and civil society; ensure resources for victim protection and services; and, maintain ongoing, real-time visibility of labour situations in supply chains.

This innovative public-private partnership will run through late 2015, and will provide a strong foundation for future action to expand good business practices and benefit the lives of thousands of migrant workers.

UK retailers and seafood to launch a pilot project in Thailand to identify and address risks of human trafficking and labour abuses in their seafood supply chains.