Merry Christmas! Here are some simple steps you can take in ensuring practical steps towards safe seafood.
The Thai Government released on 30 November 2018 that they will ratify the International Labour Organization (ILO) Work in Fishing Convention No. 188, 2007 (C188). They will be the first Asian nation to do so.
This will elevate the standard of labour protection onboard fishing vessels to be in line with the international standard. It will also reduce the risk of labours falling into forced labour situations. C188 was created to ensure decent work for fishing workers, including setting the maximum working hours, ensuring quality of accommodation, food, drinking water and medical care, as well as carrying out inspections of working and living conditions on board the vessels.
Seafood is one of the most-traded foods in the world. The sector employs at least 260 million workers globally, and some 3 billion people rely on seafood as a primary source of protein.
The US State Department and other credible sources have consistently identified the seafood sector as a significant contributor to the global incidence of modern slavery. Widespread forced labour has been reported in the seafood industry in 47 countries.
Some of this seafood we will eat this Christmas.
In 2011, STOP THE TRAFFIK asked Australia’s fashion retailers to sign a pledge to stop knowingly buying cotton sourced from Uzbekistan. We also asked the public to stay informed on this issue and be part of the process of support for companies who did so. Countless companies signed the pledge and the positive steps now being taken in Uzbekistan cotton fields are a sign of its might. However, it is important to continue the pressure, and a new battle-line must be drawn, turning to a pledge against the cotton coming from Turkmenistan.
Protest rallies in the streets of America have become an image we have gotten used to in the last year, but one this week in New York has not received the same amount of public attention as many others in the United States. On October 4th, thousands of protesters gathered outside the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York to demand the end of state sponsored forced labour in Turkmenistan’s cotton industry. The demonstrators presented a petition signed by 84,000 people from across the world to urge the Turkmen government to immediately release Gaspar Matalaev.
Through September, Uzbekistan (Uzbek), who exports 10% of the worlds cotton, making up 20% of the country’s total trade output, complete their cotton harvest. Uzbekistan has spent years being accused of both child labour and forced labour abuses during their cotton harvest. Uzbekistan appears to have used state sponsored forced labour, where civil servants such as teachers and doctors, as well as thousands of school children have been forced to be part of the cotton-picking process. Uzbekistan has faced international pressure due to the prevalence of this state sponsored forced labour, and has outwardly shown to try to improve the situation. Due to this, the US Department of Labor (USDOL) has moved to take Uzbekistan off of their Child Labor watch list, but they will remain on the Forced Labor list.
 International Cotton Advisory Committee, ‘Cotton This Week’, https://www.icac.org/cotton_info/publications/samples/weekly_estimates/8february05.pdf (2005)
Our new pop-up site https://traffikfreechocolate.com.au is full of interesting facts, activities and suggestions on making a difference in child labour and trafficking in the cocoa growing communities. This year’s Easter chocolate campaign stresses the importance of a living income. The ask to chocolate companies is to ensure that they are working towards insuring all cocoa farmers a living income. This is a factor that could be monumental in ending child labour in the cocoa farming communities, but what is a living income, why do we need it, and what can you do to help?
At STOP THE TRAFFIK we believe that slave-free chocolate is a possibility for this generation. For the last 10 years we have been asking chocolate companies to use third party certification. This means having an independent certifier review the chocolate companies to ensure a ‘zero-tolerance’ standard on child labour, training for certified farmers in child protection and child protection monitoring at a community level. These certifiers help to accountability and assurance that the companies are adhering to best practices and a code of conduct.