Reflecting on World Oceans Day

Today, June 8, is World Oceans Day, founded in 2002 to celebrate, honor, help protect and conserve the oceans. Events in honor of World Oceans Day will occur across the globe.  For some, this holiday prompts reflection on the issues related to oceans, such as sustainability and human trafficking practices in the seafood industry.

Over the past two years, the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking has coordinated advocacy efforts to encourage seafood companies to eradicate human trafficking practices.  In 2016, the Coalition sponsored a postcard campaign, while in 2017 they focused on encouraging seafood companies who are cleaning up their supply chains to label their products.  Read more about this year’s project on their website.

In honor of World Oceans Day, Fair Trade USA has launched a campaign encouraging consumers to purchase seafood that is produced in an environmentally and socially responsible way.  Launched in 2014, their certification of seafood products allows consumers to make purchases that have been shown to meet rigorous standards for workers in the fishing industry.  Learn more about their work on their website.

How will your campus celebrate and reflect on World Oceans Day?  Let us know!

 

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National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Mariners and People of the Sea and Maritime Human Trafficking Information

In conjunction with the secular holiday National Maritime Day on May 23, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has announced that the U.S. Church will observe the annual National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Mariners and People of the Sea. All are encouraged to pray for and remember all those “who are seafarers, fisherman, and those whose occupations require them to spend most of the year away from their families, in the high seas, and sometimes facing dangerous situations,” remarked Bishop J. Kevin Boland.

As 90% of the world’s goods are transported by sea and the waterways, it is important to remember the 1.2. million seafarers worldwide that make this possible. In addition to praying for and remembering them, we must also be aware of the harsh conditions and danger that they sometimes face.

According to the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking (CCOAHT):

modern slavery at sea […] occurs at all stages  of the seafood supply chain, from catching the fish to processing and shipping it for export. The virtually unregulated fishing industry in many countries, coupled with the global demand for cheap seafood, create the lawless condition under which trafficking at sea flourishes.

CCOAHT reports that trafficked workers are subject to extremely long work-days, hazardous conditions, starvation, disregard for medical needs and injuries, beatings, torture, and even killings. Workers can be lured into modern slavery “by false promises of living-wage and incur crippling debts that then become their trafficking situation,” and migrants are especially vulnerable.

The National Day of Prayer and Remembrance will include special Masses on Friday, May 20 at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C. at 12:00 p.m. and on Saturday, May 21 at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D.C. at 12:10 p.m.. In addition, on Sunday, May 22, pastors are encouraged to use the text for the Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of the Sea.

Below are three ways to get involved:

  1. Learn practical ways of becoming an ethical consumer of seafood.
  2. Learn about and join USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services’ anti-trafficking efforts.
  3. Donate or take action with Apostleship of the Sea, an Catholic charity that seeks to “provide practical and pastoral care to all seafarers, regardless of nationality, belief or race.”
  4. Pray with us:

Our Lady, Star of the Sea, Mother of God and our Mother, you know all the dangers of soul and body that threaten mariners. Protect your sons and daughters who work and travel on the waters of the world, and protect also their families that await their return. Star of the Sea, Mother of the Church, give light and strength to those chaplains and lay ministers who bring the love of your Divine Son among mariners. Fill their hearts with a supernatural and life-giving zeal for the apostolate. Star of the Sea, light shining in the darkness, be a guide to those who sail amid the storms and dangers of life. Enlighten the hearts of ardent disciples and bring us all to the safety of heaven’s port. Amen. – Apostleship of the Sea

How does your college or university engage with anti-maritime trafficking efforts? Let us know! 

CCOAHT Launches Lenten Postcard Campaign

During Lent, Catholics are called to abstain from consuming meat on Fridays to be in greater solidarity with those in need, leading many to eat more fish throughout the season. This year, the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking (CCOAHT) has started a campaign to call for the end of exploitative labor in seafood harvest and production.

CCOAHT’s Lenten Postcard Campaign is an easy way to get involved with anti-human trafficking efforts this Lent.  The campaign was launched in an effort to encourage “greater vigilance on the part of our suppliers to ensure that the seafood we eat is not tainted by slave labor.” The postcards, ask that seafood suppliers “do all in their power to guarantee that their supply chains are free of forced labor.” The two suppliers CCOAHT has chosen to target are Costco and StarKist.

Anyone can download the postcard to Costco here, and the postcard to StarKist here. To have printed and stamped postcards sent to your parish, school, or social justice ministry please contact CCOAHT at cljunquist@usccb.org.

How is your college or university engaging with anti-human trafficking efforts? Let us know! 

Happy World Day of Peace!

Join Pope Francis and Partners to Call for Action Against Human Trafficking

Earlier last month, to mark the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, Pope Francis made history by convening world faith leaders to sign a declaration committing to ending slavery by 2020. This built momentum for the anti-trafficking movement leading up to the World Day of Peace (today!), when Pope Francis is focusing his message around the theme “Slaves No More, but Brothers and Sisters.”  The YouTube video provides more information on the declaration.

To take advantage of these focal moments on the issue of human trafficking, the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking (CCOAHT), convened by the USCCB, has crafted a set of “New Years’ Resolutions Against Human Trafficking,” a list of actions related to trafficking for the public to commit to as 2015 New Years’ resolutions. CCOAHT invites you and your campus to commit to the resolutions, share them with your students and colleagues, and use #SlavesNoMore to raise awareness for the issue of human trafficking.