Moving Beyond ‘Slavery Scandals’: Reflecting on Global Fish Work
January 21, 2020 @ 11:30 am - 1:00 pm| Free
Photo credit: Melissa Marschke and Peter Vandergeest
Since 2014 governance initiatives in fisheries have been forced to respond to the outbreak of ‘slavery scandals’ concerning working conditions on fishing vessels, particularly in Thailand. These scandals are framed through a simplified narrative that invokes slavery, human trafficking and fisheries crime, dramatic narratives being successful in making the often extremely dangerous and difficult working conditions found in off-shore fishing visible. However, these slavery narratives do not fit well with the grounded and often ambiguous legalities and illegalities found in industrial fishing, and provide poor guidance towards improving these working conditions. Our research flags how little is understood about migrant labour on the high seas, and how poor working conditions persist far beyond mainland Southeast Asia. In this talk we take up these issues drawing on fisheries research based in Thailand and Taiwan, both of which rely almost entirely on migrant workers from Southeast Asia as their workforce.
About the speakers
Melissa Marschke is an Associate Professor at the School of International Development and Global Studies at the University of Ottawa. She is currently involved in research projects examining (a) work across the seafood sector, and (b) sand livelihoods, with a geographical focus on Southeast Asia (but more recently she has become interested in seafood in Canada and the Caribbean).
Peter Vandergeest is Professor of Geography at York University. His current research is concerns working conditions and labour relations in the commercial fishing industry, focussing on migrant workers and state jurisdiction across ocean spaces. Geographically his research is oriented to Taiwan and Southeast Asia, and he also maintains research on forest conservation in the latter region.