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Learning Lessons in Tackling Slavery and Human Trafficking in Seafood Supply Chains: Applying Solutions for UK and Other Businesses Sourcing from Indonesia

Principal Investigator: Dr Katharine Jones, Coventry University 

Co-Investigator: Dr Lisa Marie Rende Taylor, Issara Institute

Slavery of Indonesian and migrant workers on fishing vessels in South East Asia is well-documented. While the attention (of the media, of international organisations and of researchers) has until now largely focused on Thailand, in recent years Indonesia has emerged as one of the biggest seafood-producing countries in the world. We know that forced labour and human trafficking has factored into this rapid growth, and that it is now as significant an issue in Indonesia as it is in Thailand. However, we still know little about which corporate and/or government and NGO interventions work, nor which may make matters worse. This project will produce robust evidence-driven recommendations to help the brand-owners, buyers and suppliers which source from the fishing industry in Indonesia to understand where and how they can address similar risks within their seafood supply chains in Indonesia. We will also produce policy recommendations for the Government of Indonesia who have made this issue a priority. The project will be led by Dr. Katharine Jones at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University, in partnership with Dr. Lisa Rende Taylor (ISSARA Institute) and in collaboration with IOM and the University of Indonesia. The project will run between December 2017 until April 2019. To produce these recommendations, we will:

  • Document and analyse how forced labour and human trafficking of Indonesian and of migrant workers enters seafood supply chains (fishing vessels and in seafood processing factories) in Indonesia, including through recruitment practices;
  • Review existing (international) knowledge about and evaluations of the effectiveness of:
    • Relevant business-led and business-NGO interventions to tackle forced labour and human trafficking including Worker Voice, Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives, Codes of Conduct and social audits. We will look beyond the first tier of supply chains and into subcontracting relationships, reviewing for unintended consequences of interventions where appropriate;
    • Relevant government interventions to tackle forced labour and human trafficking in seafood or similar supply chains;
    • Relevant initiatives to tackle abusive recruitment practices which lead to forced labour and human trafficking.
    • Analyse what motivates companies in the seafood industry to address abuse of workers in their supply chains, including regulatory frameworks, and what forms of business leadership are most effective in tackling the ‘demand’ for seafood caught and produced by workers who have been trafficked or who are held in forced labour conditions. 

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