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New report surveys 35 major tuna companies and finds the sector is failing to tackle modern slavery in its supply chains

Canned tuna companies failing to tackle modern slavery in supply chains

Click on the flag for more information about United Kingdom UNITED KINGDOM
Tuesday, June 04, 2019, 03:20 (GMT + 9)

A new report from a UK-based human rights group surveyed 35 major tuna companies and found the sector is failing to tackle modern slavery in its supply chains.

The Pacific is home to the world’s largest tuna fisheries, providing almost 60 percent of the world’s tuna catch in an industry worth USD 22 billion with growing demand.  

Yet severe human rights abuse is endemic, including forced labour, slavery, human trafficking and child labour, and reports of migrant workers bought and sold as slaves and tossed overboard if they complain or get injured, claims the Business and Human Rights Resource Center (BHRRC).

Click on the image to enlarge it (Source: business-humanrights.org)

The group said that it surveyed 35 canned tuna companies and supermarkets representing 80 percent of the world’s largest retail canned tuna brands between November 2018 and January 2019, and only 20 companies responded.  

The key findings of the BHRRC report include:

  • Two thirds (24 companies) have a public human rights policy.
  • Half (18/35) report having a human rights due diligence process.
  • But only one company (Thai Union) could outline its due diligence procedure in detail.
  • Only 4/35 companies – Thai Union, Kraft Heinz Australia, Target and REWE Group – reported having due diligence policies and procedures that specifically address the risk of modern slavery in supply chains.

The group underlines the fact that tuna companies’ supply chains are opaque, with only 20 percent (7/35 companies) reporting they have mapped their supply chains in full.

  

Transhipment of tuna (Photo: business-humanrights.org)

The report, entitled Out of Sight: Modern Slavery in Pacific Supply Chains of Canned Tuna, also reveals that companies are generally failing to enforce their human rights standards in their supply chains with only 3/35 companies cascading modern slavery prohibitions throughout their entire supply chain.

And a majority of tuna companies do not extend their complaints system to workers in their supply chains.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre help communities and NGOs get companies to address human rights concerns, and provide companies an opportunity to present their response in full ►

According to BHRRC, a few committed tuna companies (Thai Union, Bumble Bee Foods and Clover Leaf Seafoods) are working consistently to improve their approach to human rights, with innovative measures to address modern slavery, such as digital traceability of fish, and measures designed specifically to protect migrant fishers from abuse.


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