The unregulated high seas, beyond the 20-mile “economic zones” under state jurisdiction, have long been the scene of human and environmental transgressions. An egregious case is human trafficking in the fishing industry, with thousands of workers captured and forced into inhumane working conditions by illicit ship operators in countries like Myanmar, Thailand, and Indonesia. Recent developments, however, signal an increased international desire to take action. The US, which imports 90 percent of its seafood, finally signed on to the Port State Measures Agreement, which empowers port officials to ban ships suspected of using slave labor. Independently, the world’s two largest labor federations submitted a case to the International Labor Organization against the government of Thailand for failing to prevent forced labor in the fishing industry. These steps augur well for the future, but it will take far more coordinated, enforceable international action to vanquish the moral atrocity of twenty-first-century slavery.
Bodes well for the future