Distant Water Fishing and Social Responsibility
Workers on vessels, particularly DWF fleets, face difficult and dangerous labor conditions due to the at-sea nature of the work. Accessing timely grievance mechanisms, improving living and working conditions, ensuring safety, and the ability to switch jobs are all complicated when working on a vessel. Two-tier work permit systems, in which national fishers receive greater protections than migrant fishers on a vessel at sea, also contribute to greater exploitation of migrant workers. Unchecked, these challenges can contribute to human trafficking and forced labor.
The U.S. government’s focus on human rights abuses associated with DWF has increased in recent years, reflecting a growing awareness of this issue. Between 2019 and 2021, four detention orders were issued for imported products associated with forced labor and tuna vessels. Despite strong actions related to the import of foreign seafood products, the U.S. and other countries continue to utilize a two-tiered system.