Federal Funding to Combat Forced Labor, Human Trafficking in Southeast Asia's Fishing Industry

The grant will support efforts to counter abusive working conditions.

Fishermen collect tuna caught by trawl nets in Nha Trang Bay, Vietnam, May 2012.
Fishermen collect tuna caught by trawl nets in Nha Trang Bay, Vietnam, May 2012.

WASHINGTON â€“ The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the award of a $2.5 million grant to Development Alternatives Inc. to improve working conditions in Southeast Asia by countering forced labor and abusive working conditions in fishing.

Administered by the department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs, this cooperative agreement will support DAI’s work to strengthen the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ capacity to coordinate and collaborate with governments, civil society, the private sector and worker organizations to address forced labor and promote responsible labor practices in the region’s fishing industry. 

At the historic U.S.-ASEAN Summit on May 12-13 – held for the first time at the White House –  President Biden announced more than $150 million in initiatives. This funding, of which the $2.5 million grant was a part, will deepen U.S.-ASEAN relations, strengthen ASEAN centrality, and expand the participants’ ability to achieve shared objectives.

In recent years, Southeast Asia’s fast-growing commercial fishing industry has come under fire amid illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing practices, as well as reports of forced labor, child labor, human trafficking and other labor abuses. These practices include subjecting workers to excessive recruitment fees, confiscation and withholding of workers’ passports or other identity documents. Labor advocates have also found employers engaged in fraudulent recruitment tactics such as contract switching and forcing people to work against their will, without pay and under threats of violence.

Founded in 1970, DAI is a global development company operating across five continents. Working with national and local governments, bilateral and multilateral donors, private corporations and philanthropies, DAI takes on social and economic development problems caused by inefficient markets and governance, and government instability.

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