Fishery Industry

Fishery Industry

Thailand is one of the biggest sea-food exporting countries in Southeast Asia, and the fishing industry requires the cheap labor of migrant workers. Most Thai workers shun work in this sector because of the perilous working environment and lack of privacy. Thailand’s fishing industry is an important part of the economy and hundreds of thousands of migrant workers from neighboring countries are working in this sector. Migrants from Burma (Myanmar) and Cambodia, many undocumented, provide Thai companies with cheap, unregulated labor.

While the living conditions, health assistance, and general work environment of migrants in Thailand are already very poor and exploitative, fishery workers are even worse off . The conditions for fishermen are very poor, and they do not have suitable eating or sleeping times because they have to work in six hours cycles over a 24-hour work day. Sickness, poor nutrition, abuse and death at sea are common.

These workers are the highest single group of human trafficking victims in Thailand. Many are virtually abducted and forced out to sea after having been promised other jobs. Some of these victims have to work at sea for months at a time, without even being allowed a short shore visit. Child labor in this sector is rife. The industry even prefers children for certain tasks, partly due to the lower costs.

Because of the notoriety of the sector among migrants, fishing operators are facing labor shortages. The National Fisheries Association of Thailand (NFAT) admitted that they need 140,000 workers, but could find only half of them in 2011. Even though the Thai government’s new registration process had finished in 14 July 2011, fishing operators were given until August 13 to register alien workers.

NGOs, such as MAP foundation, Foundation for AID Rights, IOM, World Vision, Foundation for Education and Development (FED), some government agencies, as well as community based organizations, are working to promote and protect the rights of fishery workers in Thailand.

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