Calling Out the Ocean Outlaws
John Hocevar
92

Hi John,

To answer your first question, I’ve seen some incremental steps being taken by large companies to try to confront the problems we highlighted in their supply chain. I am not, however, clear on whether these steps are effective and I don’t have the impression that they are common across the industry. So, for example, in one of our stories we focused on fish that were coming from boats in the South China Sea and being sent through the port of Songklha in Thailand to a cannery which is a subsidiary of the Thai Union where it was made into livestock feed and pet food, with much of it shipped to the United States. We first contacted the Thai Union in January about our findings regarding forced labor on ships and fish being trans-shipped to their canneries. As our story explained, trans-shipment is a system where long-haul fishing boats stay at sea for long periods of time, sometimes years, without coming to shore while mother ships haul the catch back to shore. The most severe labor abuses are thought to occur on these long-haul trans-shipment boats because they are so inaccessible to outsiders. In recent interviews, the Thai Union said that they stopped using trans-shipment in April to address these concerns. But it is still remains murky (to me at least) how they ensure that none of the fish that comes to their canneries comes by way of trans-shipment.

As far as the second question is concerned I think some of the better ideas that I have heard floated for fixes can be found here and here.