KUALA LUMPUR: Asian countries have been urged to sign up to international standards on working conditions in the fishing industries after Thailand became the first in the region to make such a pledge.
Fishing is largely unregulated in Asia and analysis by the Global Slavery Index has identified workers in the industries of China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand as being at high risk of modern slavery.
Thailand on Wednesday ratified the International Labour Organisation’s Work in Fishing Convention, which sets out binding rules and standards for conditions on fishing vessels.
In recent years, Thailand’s multibillion-dollar seafood industry has come under scrutiny for slavery, trafficking and violence on fishing boats and at onshore processing facilities.
Earlier this month, the European Union (EU) withdrew its threat to ban Thai fishing imports, and said that the country had made progress in tackling illegal and unregulated fishing.
After the EU threatened to ban fish exports, and the US State Department said it was failing to tackle human trafficking, Bangkok toughened up its laws and increased fines for violations.
Thailand has introduced modern technologies – from satellites to optical scanning and electronic payment services – to crack down on abuses.
The ILO convention ratified by Thailand includes requirements relating to occupational safety and health, medical care at sea and ashore, rest periods, written work agreements and social security protection. — Reuters
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