HRC to begin new research project in collaboration with Winrock International, funded by USAID Asia CTIP, in order to increase transparency in the tuna fishing supply chain

HRC is starting a new project in collaboration with Winrock International, funded by USAID Asia CTIP, which aims to identify gaps and opportunities to improve the protection of fishermen in the tuna supply chain in the Pacific Ocean. This will be done through scenario mapping of the roles of actors involved from the recruitment of fishermen to their returning home.

HRC has a long track record of producing impactful research related to labour rights for the fishing industry, having previously carried out labour supply chain mapping projects with both Indonesian and Filipino fishermen in collaboration with Plan International (see our blog post). In addition, HRC has also connected the UK-based NGO ‘Human Rights at Sea’ to the Taiwanese government among other international NGOs.

The research for this project aims to increase transparency in the tuna fishing supply chain, including for both human food and pet food. It aims to generate knowledge on how the supply chain is organised, including the profile of the fishermen, the process of recruitment of workers, fishing, transhipping, and processing. Through mapping the supply chain, information related to monitoring, grievance mechanism, and case remediation will be collected and included. The project is also expected to produce knowledge around the baseline information on connectivity at sea, including the use of satellite phones and Wi-Fi, and examples of how it benefits workers’ labour conditions. In addition, the project will also generate recommendations for private sectors (buyer companies) and the wider stakeholders (INGOs and governments).

Research will be carried out with a focus on the Pacific Islands, with the help of local researchers from Indonesia, the Philippines, Marshall Islands, Solomon Island, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji. Ethnographic research will be conducted in major ports in Taiwan as well as in selected Pacific Islands. Our researchers will also conduct a social media textual analysis in order to better understand the function of platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and LINE amongst migrant fishermen.

Through increasing transparency within the global tuna supply chain, we expect this project to highlight and reduce the factors that lead to forced labour and human rights abuses onboard distant-water fishing vessels.