Press Release

New Report on IUU Fishing Finds Conservation Tools Crucial in the Fight Against Forced Labor in Seafood Industry

Mannal Babar, 

New Report on IUU Fishing Finds Conservation Tools Crucial in the Fight Against Forced Labor in Seafood Industry

The report, by ICAR and CSIS, calls on the government to leverage existing conservation tools to fight illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and forced labor. 

WASHINGTON, DC – A new report by the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) and Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) finds that leveraging existing conservation tools to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing increases the U.S. government’s ability to stop goods produced by forced labor from entering our ports. The report, “Reeling in Abuse: How Conservation Tools Can Help Combat Forced Labor Imports in the Seafood Industry” recommends ways in which data collected by the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) can be leveraged to develop proactive strategies, in collaboration with Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to combat forced labor.

“In order for us to have a successful set of systems that prevent goods made with forced labor from entering the US and to stop companies from engaging in those practices  – we need two things,” said ICAR Interim Executive Director David McKean. “We need transparency in supply chains and we need strong enforcement mechanisms in place. SIMP is a unique example, where we have a transparency mechanism that links to enforcement. If we do this right, it could become a powerful model that expands to other supply chains and industries bolstering the fight against forced labor”.

The report explores the well-established connection between IUU fishing and forced labor in the seafood industry. Due to the growing demand for seafood over the past 50 years, the industry turns to source labor from middle and low-income countries. Migrant workers in particular are vulnerable to being deceived and forced to work onboard vessels under the threat of force. Human rights violations and forced labor are understood to be a core element of the industry’s current structure.

Effective use of data collected by the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) can dramatically increase the US government’s ability to more strongly implement enforcement mechanisms to prohibit goods produced with forced labor and human rights violations from entering the country. This system would largely rely on existing legal authorities and agencies. The goal is to create a model for enhanced traceability and enforcement which can be replicated across industries providing a larger framework to hold companies accountable for abuses in their supply chains.

The report recommends expansion of existing SIMP data, better recordkeeping requirements, and stronger transparency and reporting mechanisms, including the following:

  • Compare SIMP data to existing public allegations
  • Use SIMP data to do risk analysis
  • Expand SIMP to cover all seafood species
  • Require companies to disclose fishing vessel’ beneficial ownership information as part of SIMP reporting
  • Expand SIMP’s recordkeeping requirements to include labor indicators such as the existence of worker contracts in local languages and evidence of active worker-grievance mechanisms
  • Make some SIMP data publicly available

Each of these recommendations could be undertaken under existing authorities.

ICAR joins CSIS to advocate for stronger traceability and enforcement mechanisms against IUU fishing in the seafood industry. We stand to protect vulnerable workers, our environment, and our oceans. You can read the report here.




About ICAR

The International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) is a civil society organization that believes in the need for an economy that respects the rights of all people, not just powerful corporations. We harness the collective power of progressive organizations to push governments to create and enforce rules over corporations that promote human rights and reduce inequality. For more information, visit us:


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