New report says not enough being done to address slavery in canned tuna supply chains

A new report released on Tuesday by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre called into focus the supply chains of canned tuna companies which it said was not scrutinized closely enough for signs of slavery and labour abuse.

Reports by the Guardian and Reuters in 2014 revealed forced labour and other issues in the supply chains of Thailand’s fisheries sector including some of the country’s largest companies.

The new report by the BHRRC revealed that in 2021, many of these companies have not taken any action to stop forced labour despite making public pledges to do so.

According to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the Covid-19 pandemic has increased demands for canned Tuna even as the closure of ports effectively stranded fishery workers at sea and have opened the doors for further abuse.

Thailand is home to some of the world’s largest canned tuna companies in the world including Thai Union Group, Pegasus Food, and Hi-Q Food Products. Recognizable brands like Chicken of the Sea and John West are under the Thai Union fold.

According to the BHRRC report, Thai Union was one of the few companies to respond to BHRRC requests and maintained that the company was doing its utmost to ensure that no forced labour was part of its supply chain.

The company said that it did not own any fishing vessels outright but had conducted due diligence in according with its human rights policies which was launched in 2018 in response to findings by journalists that modern slavery was part of its supply chain.

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