Migrant workers keep Thai fishing industry afloat

Migrant workers keep Thai fishing industry afloat
This picture taken on September 20, 2013 shows labourers unloading fish from a trawler at a port in Pattani, southern Thailand.

PATTANI - Sifting through freshly caught sardines at a port in southern Thailand, Shi-Jai is one of thousands of migrant workers - including women and children - who keep the kingdom's huge fishing industry in business.

Each day a small army of labourers from countries including Myanmar and Cambodia - some legal, some undocumented - man rusting trawlers or help offload and sort the catch at ports around the country.

Shi-Jai, who hails from Myanmar's Mon State, says she earns about $10 a day at a port in Thailand's insurgency-hit south.

"It is not too much, but it is higher than I can earn at home," she says as a stern-faced supervisor prowls along the line of women - and a handful of children - sorting through the morning catch.

The workers live in scruffy dormitory blocks close to the port in Pattani in Thailand's deep south, where a near decade-long rebellion led by Muslim militants has claimed more than 5,700 lives.

Thailand is the world's third largest fish exporter by value, with sales worth around $7 billion a year.

But it is under international pressure to respond to reports of fishermen forced to work as virtual slaves under brutal conditions.

Earlier this month the International Labour Organisation (ILO) warned of "serious abuses" in the fishing industry such as forced labour and violence.

More about

Purchase this article for republication.



Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.