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Darian McBain, Global Director of Sustainable Development of Thai Union Group. (Photo: YouTube/FIS)

Thai Union intends to aid Thailand to combat fishing labour abuse

  (THAILAND, 9/24/2018)

Thailand’s progress in promoting human rights in the fishing industry will be one of the issues addressed at a panel session on modern slavery and human trafficking to be held on Monday at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. 

The panel, on the topic of “Stepping up Action to End Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking”, will be directed by Darian McBain, global director of sustainability for the Thai Union Group, which was invited by the United Kingdom to participate in the assembly in recognition for being the first firm to comply with the UK Modern Slavery Act.

“Thailand has made a number of advances on human rights, which should be commended, but there is more work to be done and I believe Thailand has the opportunity be a leader on the human rights agenda,” McBain told The Nation.

For instance, she highlighted that Thailand’s Department of Fisheries has been very supportive of an innovative digital traceability pilot project implemented by Thai Union, which uses mobile applications and satellite connectivity to track Thai fishing vessels.

(Photo: YouTube/FIS)

Thai Union’s executive stressed that the firm committed to helping Thailand find solutions to the industry’s greatest sustainability challenges after recalling that since April 2015, the European Commission has given Thailand a so-called “yellow card” for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

She also recalled that Thailand’s status in the latest US Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report was upgraded to Tier 2 in June this year for its efforts to combat modern slavery.

In addition, the director raised concerns over the issue of modern slavery, human trafficking and labour rights in both the Thai and global fishing industries, saying it was a critical issue and more work needed to be done.

“Meaningful, collective action is needed to ensure the slavery that stains some modern-day supply chains is abolished,” she urged.

Crewmen trying to escape from a fishing vessel by jumping into the sea. (Photo: Stock File)

Another key message McBain will deliver at the session is a warning to agencies that pay no attention to sustainable development.

In this regard, she argues that companies and governments that ignore sustainable development or use it as a window dressing and greenwashing [deceptive promotion that a company is environmentally friendly], do so at their own peril.

“They risk the long-term viability of their products and workforce, as well as the potential loss of access to global markets,” she added.

In 2015, the international community decided to work on eradicating forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking by 2030 as per Target 8.7 of the 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

At the UNGA, a cross-regional group of countries will convene to demonstrate the actions they have taken and will continue to take to achieve Target 8.7.

McBain highlighted that Thai Union, a company with a global workforce that welcomes legal economic migrants, has eliminated recruitment fees for all workers in its factories and processing plants.

All in all, McBain recognises that there are a lot of challenges that the industry, and the world as a whole, is facing – from environmental issues such as ocean health and resilience to social challenges surrounding forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking that are being discussed at the UNGA.

“Businesses are a significant agent for change and we should harness the power of business to bring about environmental, social as well as economic change for the good of people and the planet,” she concluded.

Related articles:

- EU to check Thai fishing sector progress against IUU fishing
- NGOs urge Thai Govt to strengthen efforts to eliminate labour abuse from fishing industry
- EJF urges Thailand to take further steps against fishing workers abuse


 
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