Sign the Petition to Walmart to Protect Seafarers
90% of global trade is moved by the sea and it is our fellow seafarers who work tirelessly to transport this cargo to and from the world’s 6,000 ports. During the pandemic, seafarers continue to deliver products essential for survival to our shores (vaccines, face masks, hygiene items, staple food items). Pope Francis also stresses that, “without the people of the sea, many parts of the world would starve.”
Each year, the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking (CCOAHT) launches a campaign to raise awareness of forced labor in the fishing industry. This year, due to the global pandemic, a new humanitarian crisis has emerged that is severely impacting all men and women who work at sea. CCOAHT - together with Stella Maris and the Apostleship of the Sea USA - are urging people of faith to leverage their voices as consumers to uphold the safety and labor rights of one of the world’s most invisible group of essential workers.
U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking,
as a member of CCOAHT, endorses this campaign and
encourages all of our supporters to participate!
What are the risks that seafarers face at sea?
Seafarers contend with turbulent seas made worse by climate change, modern-day piracy, long and grueling workdays, constant exposure to the elements, and lack of medical attention while aboard a vessel. Pope Francis describes their occupation as one of the most dangerous in the world. Those who work on vessels are also at risk for labor exploitation, which at times rises to the level of human trafficking.
How has pandemic exacerbated these risks?
The global pandemic has gravely impacted the safety of seafarers across the world. Due to border closures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, hundreds of thousands of seafarers have been stranded aboard ships beyond the length of their contracts, including what is allowed by international law (up to 11 months). This is known as the crew change crisis and has increased seafarers’ risk of labor exploitation and human trafficking.
Sign the petition below urging Walmart, one of our largest retailers, to acknowledge their reliance on seafarers for the healthy functioning of their business model, and to show concern for seafarers’ wellbeing by signing the Neptune Declaration.
What is the Neptune Declaration
It is a global pact that outlines the actions needed to resolve the humanitarian crisis facing seafarers. This includes universal designation of seafarers as key essential workers and calls for greater cooperation between ship owners and those who lease ships to transport cargo (charterers) to facilitate the replacement of one ship’s crew members with another (crew change). This enables seafarers who have completed their contacts to return home to family.
Why Should Walmart sign?
Like many major retailers, Walmart’s success is linked to the wellbeing of seafarers. Without the workers who transport by sea the goods that Walmart sells in 11,443 stores, their business would cease to exist. This is also a human rights issue. Walmart has taken positive steps to address forced labor in their supply chains and has committed to upholding labor rights. As proponents of the dignity of workers in supply chains, this commitment should extend to seafarers.
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To learn more about the current plight of seafarers and access additional resources to engage your faith community about this important human rights issue, download a copy of our RESOURCE BOOKLET.