Migrant Fishers Union and Allies Outraged by Seafood Industry’s ‘Tone-Deaf’ Admission that Isolation is Deliberate

Seafood industry tells migrant fishers experiencing forced labor and horrific work conditions that being able to communicate while at sea will “hinder their work mood”

TAIPEI—Unions, worker organizations, and civil society organizations in the Wi-Fi Now for Fishers’ Rights campaign have responded to comments by the Taiwan Tuna Association, opposing Wi-Fi for fishers under the pretext that isolation enhances productivity.

“The Tuna Association’s brazen and tone-deaf comments reveal a shocking truth–they prioritize productivity over the fundamental labor rights and well-being of the fishers and their families. Fishers should have the right to access their pay, voice concerns to unions or officials, and maintain contact with their families,” emphasized Achmad Mudzakir, Chairman of the Indonesian Seafarers Gathering Forum (FOSPI). 

In an interview with industry publication Seafood Source, a representative from the Taiwan Tuna Administration stated that they believe that providing Wi-Fi for fishers will “seriously hinder their work mood” and distract them from their work.

“The Taiwanese distant-water fishing business model should not depend on exploiting forced labor and the complete seclusion of migrant fishers. If Taiwan’s fishing industry really wants to improve fishers’ work moods and conditions, it would provide mandatory secure Wi-Fi internet access on all deep-sea fishing vessels so fishers can communicate with their families and with their unions to report any abuses in real-time,” said Jennifer (JJ) Rosenbaum, Executive Director of Global Labor Justice–International Labor Rights Forum. “Migrant fishers face extraordinary barriers to freedom of association. Wi-Fi access would provide a lifeline for migrant fishers and a crucial first step towards ensuring that the Taiwanese fishing industry, and the brands it supplies, uphold their commitments to human rights, supplier codes of conduct, and global labor standards,” added Rosenbaum.

Migrant fishers in Taiwan’s distant-water fleet are speaking out against the conditions they face, including forced labor, physical abuse, wage theft, death and disappearances at sea, and a total lack of communication with their families and the outside world while at sea for months at a time. The plight of migrant fishers in Taiwan’s fleet has garnered renewed attention after the recent explosive story from the Guardian on the horrific working conditions faced by the fishers who supply 1.8 billion USD of Taiwan’s distant-water fishing products, including tuna and squid, to major global markets.

The Wi-Fi Now For Fishers’ Rights Campaign is made up of  U.S., Taiwanese and Indonesian allies, including the Indonesian Seafarers Gathering Forum, or Forum Silaturahmi Pelaut Indonesia (FOSPI), Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF), Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR), Stella Maris Kaohsiung, Serve the People Association (SPA), and Humanity Research Consultancy (HRC).

Contact: Julie Blust 215-713-6777 julieblust at