Maybe Time to Give Up Shrimp?
December 14, 2015
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An AP investigation has found Burmese men, women and children are being sold to factories in Thailand and forced to peel shrimp that ends up in global supply chains, including those of Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, Red Lobster, Target and Albertsons.
The slavery persists despite repeated vows by Thai businesses and government to clean up the Asian nation’s $7 billion seafood exporting business.
Parents and children worked together, peeling farmed shrimp in a warehouse that had overflowing toilets and the stench of sewage, AP reporters found. The peelers often work 16-hour days for little or no pay, as company monitors watch to prevent them from escaping, the report said.
“No one wants to buy seafood tainted by forced labor, and we know that the issues reach far beyond just shrimp,” said John Hocevar, director of Greenpeace USA Oceans Campaign.
An earlier investigation of shrimp boat slavery reported, shrimp slaves are fed as little as one bowl of rice a day and often endure beatings.
“It’s the most horrific situation I have seen in more than 25 years of monitoring human rights abuses around the world,” noted Steve Trent, of Britain’s Environmental Justice Foundation.
Fishing boat owners can order slaves from criminal gangs with the going price for a human being in Thai fishing ports ranges between $375 and $960. Once aboard the boats and in international waters, the unpaid workers remain trapped, often for several years.
If you want to eat shrimp, US consumers can opt for wild American shrimp.