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Thailand Tuna Association Collaborates To Stop Illegal Labor

Eight Thai industry associations in tuna production, aquaculture and fisheries have come together with an aim of stopping illegal labor in the fishing industry and improving the country’s reputation on the matter.

The collaboration sees the signing of an agreement that was chaired by the Minister of Agriculture, Yukol Limlamthong. The eight associations included the National Fisheries Association of Thailand, the Overseas Fisheries Association, the Thai Fishmeal Producers Association, the Thai Shrimp Association, the Thai Tuna Industry Association and the Thai Food Processors’ Association.

Thai Union Frozen Products (TUF), the world’s largest seafood processor and exporter, has faced several allegations of bad labor practice and poor working conditions, including the employment of minors. The company has always fiercely denied the accusations and, in September this year, announced its joining of the International Labor Organization’s Good Labor Practices (GLP) Program.

According to Limlamthong, Thailand is listed on the US’s Tier 2 Watch List for human trafficking. He said if changes are not made, it could be included in Tier 3, which would have a strong detrimental effect on the country’s exports. Thailand is the world’s largest exporting nation of canned tuna and pre-cooked loins and in 2012 shipped over 559,000 tons of these products. The majority of catch by the local Thai fleet is on tongol tuna. The country imports most of its tuna raw material for production from the Western Central Pacific and foreign purse seine fleets.

As well as efforts to stop illegal labor, the eight associations will also work to support workers’ quality of life and oppose child labor.