Big data and weak signal analysis

Human trafficking and  Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated (IUU) fishing closely co-exist within the same socioeconomic ecosystem. Overfishing can reduce the profitability of the seafood industry at multiple levels and create incentives for forced labor. Much of the human trafficking in Southeast Asia is related to the fishing industry of Thailand. Victims of human trafficking are drawn to these areas from the most vulnerable populations of the surrounding countries.

This analysis, led by Novametrics, provided empirical evidence to support the relationship between IUU fishing and human trafficking. This project addressed the following SDGs: SDG 5 - Gender equality,  SDG 8 - Decent work and economic growth, SDG 14 - Life below water, and SDG 16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions. The analysis indicated that even at the province level, there are identifying characteristics of port systems that reflect human trafficking. While none of these are diagnostic on their own, the combination of factors can be used in a predictive manner with high confidence.

The characteristics of fleets hospitable to forced labor include:

  1. The high volume of trash fish and a large number of fishmeal plants, perhaps reflecting a large fishing industry operating at a marginal profit.
  2. The high proportion of large vessels, perhaps reflecting a high demand for labor by a relatively few organizations and an efficient market for forced labor.
  3. The combination of high catch volume with large vessels targeting trash fish, perhaps reflecting the combined effect of the first two factors. These are port systems with a large volume of landed catch, where the fleet consists of relatively large vessels, and where trash fish are being targeted.
  4. High production of fishmeal for the amount of landed trash fish catch, perhaps reflecting unreported landed catch.
  5. Locations where fishing is a major industry, perhaps reflecting areas where there are limited alternative income-producing activities and therefore fishing continues even when marginally profitable.

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