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3 Jun 2019

Out of Sight: Modern Slavery in Pacific Supply Chains of Canned Tuna

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Briefing   Microsite   Press Release 

The Pacific is home to the world’s largest tuna fisheries, providing almost 60% of the world’s tuna catch in an industry worth US$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.

We surveyed 35 canned tuna companies and supermarkets representing 80 of the world’s largest retail canned tuna brands between November 2018 and January 2019. 20 companies responded.  

Key findings

Tuna companies are failing to support their policies with practical action
on modern slavery.

  • 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.

Tuna companies’ supply chains are opaque, with only 20% (7/35 companies)
reporting they have mapped their supply chains in full.

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.

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

  • 60% of companies (21/35) have a grievance mechanism for reporting complaints and cases of alleged human rights abuse.
  • But only six of these complaints mechanisms are available to supply chain workers (Thai Union, Bumble Bee Foods, Clover Leaf Seafoods, Kaufland, Metro AG and Coles Group).

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.

Read the full briefing Out of Sight: Modern Slavery in Pacific Supply Chains of Canned Tuna 

Read our update report All at sea: An evaluation of company efforts to address modern slavery in Pacific supply chains of canned tuna