Slavery on the high seas has captured headlines in recent months, but there have been several successes lately in the fight to eliminate these human right abuses…
Human Trafficking Search reported investigations have lead to Thailand receiving a lower ranking by the United States Trafficking in Person’s report in 2014 and 2015. While awareness of slavery in fishing supply chains has grown, there have been few legal remedies put in place to attempt to eradicate the problem. Earlier this month, efforts were put forth by the United States, one of the largest consumers of seafood globally, to close the slavery loophole in the maritime fishing industry.
However, when the U.S. Senate voted to close a loophole in the Tariff Act of 1930, it put new focus on supply chains of these global companies. And now it bars goods made by convict, forced or indentured labor, amid a new focus on slavery in the supply chains of global companies. The current law had been unchanged for 85 years, despite pleas from government officials responsible for preventing goods derived from slavery from entering the country, such as seafood procured with slave labor.
US President Obama signed the Port State Measures Agreement to allow authorities to prohibit these foreign vessels that are suspects regarding illegal fishing and abuse of workers. Including the US, there have been 20 countries so far to ratify the pact.
Another positive move was that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced a plan this month to intensify the ways that seafood is traced from the time it is caught until it reaches the marketplace. This will create more reporting from American importers.
This international push and the attention the US is paying to the issue may be leading to greater reform.
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