Fish from Thailand and Indonesia are caught by slaves and sold to the U.S.
Kroger, Albertsons, Safeway - the nation's largest retailer, Wal-Mart - and Sysco, the biggest food distributor in the nation, all carry fish caught by slaves. Even the global supply chain responsible for canned pet food like Fancy Feast, Meow Mix, and Lams contain "tainted" fish.
A year long investigation by the Associated Press concluded "it is nearly impossible to tell where a specific fish caught by a slave ends up" because "entire supply chains are muddied...money is trickling down the line to companies that benefit from slave labor."
The daily conditions of slaves on these fishing boats is torturous - they are whipped, beaten, chained - they go for days without food, and are locked in cages so they won't escape. Their papers are forged, so that it appears they are paid, "documented" workers.
How do you know if the fish in your supermarket or your favorite restaurant came from companies that use slave labor? According to major corporations, it is extremely difficult to tell. Slave-caught seafood is mixed in with other fish of its kind to be cleaned and processed prior to being shipped to the U.S. or other countries. So "good" shrimp can wind up in the same package as "bad" shrimp, and no one can tell the difference.
Even though foreign countries have laws against slave labor, the follow up to ensure workers are legitimate clearly isn't effective, especially when countries are trying to track fishing fleets that are comprised of migrant workers who follow the best seasons to catch tuna, shrimp, snapper, grouper, and squid.
So how do we hold global supply chains accountable for slave labor in the 21st century? Maybe it's as easy as holding the fishing industry to a standard similar to the diamond trade to ensure slaves aren't catching the fish we buy.
- Jen H., The Off The Grid Team
Find out what Jesse has to say about corporations beating the system and finding loopholes around the laws meant to protect workers:
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