Migrants in Fishery

Thailand is one of the biggest seafood exporting countries in Southeast Asia, and the fishing industry requires the labour of migrant workers. Migrants from Myanmar and Cambodia, many undocumented, contribute significantly to this sector and provide Thai companies with cheap, unregulated labour. The experiences of migrants in fishery show that the living conditions, health assistance, and the general work environment in the fishing industry are poor. Long and irregular working hours, sickness, poor nutrition, abuse, and death at sea have been widely reported in recent years.  

Migrant fishery workers repair fish nets in Rayong, Thailand. (Photo: MMN/ John Hulme)

Previous research by MMN has looked into issues surrounding migrants in fishery, and ongoing abuse and mistreatment within the sector has led MMN to initiate further and more in-depth discussions to investigate gaps in existing mechanisms to support this group of workers. In 2018, MMN held a workshop on Frameworks on Migrant Labour in the Fishing Industry in the Mekong to examine protection mechanisms for migrant workers employed in the fishing sector. 

In 2019, Thailand became the first country in Asia to ratify the International Labour Organization’s Work in Fishing Convention (C188), which protects the living and working conditions of fishers on board vessels. However, instances of abuse and exploitation within the sector continue to be documented and reported. In response to the still-inadequate protection mechanisms being applied to migrant workers in fishery, MMN, along with rights advocates of the region, collectively issued the “Joint Civil Society Statement concerning Ratification of the Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188).” To read the statement, please click here.

Related Initiatives

Further Reading

Joint CSO Statement on the Ratification of C188

Read the Joint Civil Society Statement concerning Ratification of the Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188)