Thailand is the world’s fourth-largest exporter of seafood according to UNFAO. Vulnerable migrant workers, mainly from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, but also impoverished Thais, have for years been lured onto fishing boats with promises of well-paid jobs, so many never receive salaries.
Much of the human trafficking in the seafood industry in SE Asia is with migrant workers. The trade is in human beings and the currency is hope. Most of these people come from poverty crushing realities and are looking for a better life, or looking to how they might make some money to take home or send back to their families – so they can have a better life. If they get trapped and trafficked, it not only makes it very difficult to live with, but it also makes it difficult to go back home.
Thailand has over 2mil migrant workers with 80% of those coming from Myanmar. In the fishing industry, the largest group affected by slavery in the seafood industry are people from Myanmar. Sompong Srakaew founded the Labour Rights Promotion Network (LPN) in 2006 because of the injustices he saw in the treatment of migrant workers in Thailand’s seafood processing industry. Sompong began working on migrant worker issues as early as the 1990s, after graduating with a degree in social work.