Fishing for export: calo, recruiters, informality, and debt in international supply chains

by Katharine Jones, David Visser and Agnes Simic

31 May 2019
Journal of the British Academy

Abstract: This article represents the first study to conduct a comprehensive review of employment practices within the Indonesian export fishing industry, the world’s largest exporter of tuna products. In contrast to the Thai and Taiwanese fishing industries which engage primarily migrant fishers, fishers in Indonesia are Indonesian nationals, although many are internal migrants. We make two arguments. Firstly, that some of the same risks of forced labour—in hiring and employment practices—exist even where the workforce are domestic rather than international migrants. Secondly, our research identified that informal employment relations inherent in small-scale traditional fishing have been co-opted by businesses as a means of reducing labour costs while maximising their profits. Recruitment was an area of particular risk for exploitation of fishers. Our research has implications for companies sourcing from Indonesia as well governments of import companies. In particular, we argue that a narrow focus on modern slavery risks inadequate or even counterproductive policy responses.

Keywords: Fishing, seafood, supply chains, Indonesia, fishers, recruitment.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 7,
supplementary issue 1 (Tackling Modern Slavery: Problems and Possibilities).

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