Commentary: Almost every brand of tuna on supermarket shelves shows why modern slavery laws are needed

Author: Kate Nicholl, Miriam Wilhelm & Vikra Bhakoo, The Conversation , Published on: 12 January 2019

9 January 2019 

Commentary: Almost all tuna brands in Australian supermarkets show need for modern slavery laws

...We have tracked the journey of tuna from the seas around Thailand to Australian supermarket shelves....

...We believe just one brand of tinned tuna can confidently claim slavery is not involved in its supply.

...Thailand is the world's top exporter of tuna, and one of the biggest exporters of all fish. Its marine fishing industry is particularly prone to modern slavery due to its size, lack of regulation, extent of illegal operations, and exploitation of migrant workers.

...Migrant workers are not entitled to the same protections as Thai workers, and are generally paid about 25% less than the Thai minimum wage. They are unable to join unions as Thai workers are.

...Transparency is the key issue. Illegal practices are by their very nature deliberately hidden. Methods that retailers might use to manage other aspects of their supply chains – such as sending out a survey to their suppliers and suppliers' suppliers – don't work.

...Therein lies the need for modern slavery laws.

...Australia's Modern Slavery Act will require companies...to produce "modern slavery statements" that detail where they source their products, and the actions they have taken to ensure slavery does not exist within their extended supply chains.

...Hopefully now consumers will be more aware of the modern slavery risks, and in time be able to research the publicly shared information of their favourite brands.

 

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