Assessing the role of information and communication technologies in responding to ‘slavery scandals’


The media spotlight on controversial ‘slave labour’ practices in the Asia-Pacific region has highlighted poor labour conditions across the seafood sector. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are being promoted by NGOs, businesses and governments to help handle such labour challenges. This systematic review examines the state of knowledge and trends in the peer-reviewed literature related to the use of ICTs in offshore fisheries. While we hoped to find a robust literature in the area of ICTs-fisheries-labour, a coherent literature does not yet exist. However, our initial analysis suggests that two technologies hold promise for addressing labour abuse in fisheries, namely, (a) detection technologies, which include surveillance of the high seas, and, (b) the creation of mobile apps, particularly to help workers navigate work in fishing. This is where further evidence-based research is needed.

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We thank Derek Hall for his generous comments, along with two anonymous reviewers. A draft of this version was presented at CCSEAS 2019 and we appreciate the discussions this generated.


Funding was provided by Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Grants # 430-2018-0990 and 756-2018-0233), and the International Research Centre ‘Work and Human Lifecycle in Global History’ (re:work) at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

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Correspondence to Melissa Marschke.

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• ICTs are being trialled to address work in fishing.

• Further analysis is needed to demonstrate pros and cons of such technologies.

• Detection technologies hold promise for monitoring the high seas.

• Cross-platform apps hold promise for workers navigating work in fishing.

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Marschke, M., Andrachuk, M., Vandergeest, P. et al. Assessing the role of information and communication technologies in responding to ‘slavery scandals’. Maritime Studies (2020).

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  • Offshore fishing
  • Working conditions
  • ICTs
  • Seafood sector