On 29 November 2018, representatives eight countries from Southeast Asia resolved to establish the Southeast Asian Forum to End Trafficking in Persons and Forced Labour in Fisheries (SEA Forum for Fishers) at the Southeast Asian Conference on Regional Coordination and Action concerning fishers. The SEA Forum for Fishers is a non-binding multi-stakeholder regional consultative body with five thematic Working Groups. Read about the benefits of membership and the role of the technical advisor. Find the agreed documentation here. In 2019, the ILO SEA Fisheries Project will continue to act as the Secretariat and initiative the Working Group meetings leading to an inaugural plenary meeting of the Forum by October 2019. We are excited to bring you this Dispatch #1 from the SEA Forum for Fishers.

By popular demand, ILO has now set up a knowledge platform. It functions as a repository of International Conventions and Guidelines, National Laws and Policies from around Southeast Asia, and links to various organizations and agencies (including yours, we hope!) that contribute to ending human trafficking and forced labour in fisheries and seafood sectors.

We need your help to improve the Knowledge Platform!

The Knowledge Platform is a work in progress. Please let us know if there is anything you would like us to include on the Knowledge Platform. In particular, please take a look at the information relating to your country or organization, and email us if an update or correction is needed.

While we have tried to be comprehensive, we know there are still gaps. Special requests coming from the Working Groups are:

  • Any information on existing port State control practices from each country (WG2)
  • Information on laws and policies on recruitment of migrant workers in Southeast Asia (WG4).
  • Existing laws on information sharing mechanisms between countries in Southeast Asia (WG1).

Email us if you have any relevant information, and we will review and upload to the Knowledge Platform.


We are also creating a database of stakeholders and initiatives relevant to Southeast Asia to enhance cooperation and make it easier for everyone to find information and partners. We have created a stakeholder survey to gather information for this database. We are looking for information on both the mechanism of intervention (what actions are being taken) and issues addressed. (what problems are being targeted) The methodology is explained here. Many of you have already filled out the form – THANK YOU! If you have not, please do so as soon as possible, so that we can have a more comprehensive picture of what’s taking place in the SEA region.

Do the stakholder survey

Save the Date! (27, 28, 29 March)


ILO – as the Secretariat of the SEA Forum for Fishers, will convene the first meetings of the five Working Groups on 27, 28 and 29 March 2019. This will help us to build on our achievements at the SEA Conference on Regional Coordination and Action in respect of fishers in November 2018, and to put into action the Resolution on the Southeast Asian Forum to End Trafficking in Persons and Forced Labour of Fishers.

The Working Group meetings will be held virtually via the online platform Zoom. There is no need to do anything now, but we will send out the instructions to join the meetings in advance. Each Working Group meeting will be a maximum of 2 hours and we will distribute the agenda and preparation documents shortly. If you are not familiar with Zoom, we invite you to a Technical Check on 14 March 2019 at 13.30-14.00 Jakarta time. See detailed schedule in your local times here.

(All times are Jakarta time, click on the
start time for equivalent local times. Instructions will be emailed shortly)
  • Technical check (if you need it)  – Thursday 14 March 2019 1.30pm to 2.00pm.
  • Working Group 1: Wednesday 27 March 2019 09.30am -11.30am.
  • Working Group 2: Wednesday 27 March 2019 1.30pm-3.30pm.
  • Working Group 3: Thursday 28 March 2019, 09.30am-11.30am.
  • Working Group 4:  Thursday 28 March 2019, 1.30pm-3.30pm.
  • Working Group 5: Friday 29 March 2019, 09.30am-11.30am.
See the complete schedule in your local times here.

Confirm your selection of Working Group(s)

News from SEA and beyond

In January 2019, Thailand became the first country in Asia to ratify the ILO Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188) which protects the living and working conditions of fishers on board vessels. Read more here. The UN has also urged Asian countries to follow Thailand’s lead (Thomson Reuters Foundation).

The ILO Ship to Shore Rights Project (funded by the EU), in partnership with the Thai Tuna Industry Association (TTIA) and Thai Frozen Foods Association (TFFA), is publishing its “Good Labour Practices Guidelines”. The GLP programme bolsters industry association labour programmes with tools and tripartite oversight to strengthen assessments and coaching for member companies on global labour standards. The guidelines will be available on the website from 25 February. The project’s Baseline Research Findings on Fishers and Seafood Workers in Thailand (March 2018) is also a good resource for understanding conditions in the industry.

The UN raised concerns about conditions for non-European migrant fishers in the Irish fishing industry, and that the work permit scheme applied is “not in line with international law and standards related to trafficking in persons and human rights of migrants”. In the US, Customs officials detained tuna from Taiwanese longliner on suspected use of forced labour (Undercurrent News). Read about the hunt for Andrey Dolgov (also known as STS-50 or Sea Breez 1), a fishing vessels suspected of forced labour and IUU fishing finally captured in Indonesia (BBC).

Recent reports: Thai Union and WWF has released its first sourcing transparency report on wild caught fish and shellfish in February 2019. Sixteen UN agencies launched the Thailand Migration Report 2019 (download the full report in English here, Executive Summary and infographics here).

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