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Ralph Jennings, South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)

Taiwan: Migrants from Southeast Asia pushed into forced labour in fishing industry, say rights groups

"Taiwan’s labour reputation hit as Greenpeace urges downgrade over migrant-worker violations"

Greenpeace USA and other overseas advocacy groups say that migrants working for the Taiwanese fishing fleet, the world’s second-largest, are pushed into “forced” labour – striking a blow to Taiwan’s image as it recruits from abroad to offset a declining domestic workforce.

The environmental group, along with the Global Labour Justice-International Labour Rights Forum and the Seafood Working Group, said in a statement on Monday that they had also found “labour rights violations” and “human rights violations” in Taiwan.

The Washington-based Seafood Working Group – a global coalition of human rights, labour and environmental organisations – urged the US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons to lower Taiwan’s status from Tier 1 to Tier 2 in its 2023 “Trafficking in Persons Report”.


...Migrants from [Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines] make up much of Taiwan’s 35,000-strong fishing crews.

Taiwan had the world’s second-largest distant-water fishing fleet as of 2020, at 1,110 vessels, according to the US Department of Labour.


The advocacy group’s statement says there are “well-documented cases of labour abuse” in the fishing industry, including child labour or “forced” labour in the processing of fish. Some people, the statement says, have had their wages withheld.

Over the past year, Taiwan made improvements, said Chiu Yi-hsien, chief of distant-water fishing with the island’s Fisheries Agency.

The government has approved regulations that require captains or boat owners to pay wages rather than relying on brokers to do it, Chiu said. He said boat operators must now make crew members clock in and out to guard against overwork, and that 60 inspectors are tasked with boarding boats on return to ports to check in with the foreign crew members.