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27 Dec 2023

Advocates for Public Interest Law (APIL) & Human Rights Now (HRN)

S. Korea & Japan: CSO report highlights forced labour & human trafficking risks in tuna supply chain

Fresh Tuna for sale at a market in Asia.

"[Press Release] “Tuna in the Black Box”: Human rights risks hidden in the opaque tuna supply chain from Korean fishing vessels to the Japanese market," 27 Dec 2023

[...] Trading companies play an increasingly important role in the import and distribution of tuna in Japan, yet the lack of transparency in their distribution prevents access to relevant information, and makes it difficult to differentiate labor-safe and labor-risky tuna.

However, the risk of forced labor and human trafficking is significantly high on Korean longline vessels. Most of the workers on Korean longline vessels are migrant workers, who are particularly vulnerable to manipulation and labor exploitation. The report, based on interviews with the fishers, identifies multiple forced labor indicators such as unpaid or withheld wages, wage discrimination, long working hours, verbal and physical abuse, and passport confiscation.

[...] However, none of the companies involved in the distribution of tuna in Japan disclosed their supply chains, and while some have fisheries-specific human rights due diligence policies and tuna-related procurement guidelines, there was no available information on how such policies were implemented in practice.