By Amanda Wilkes:
If you buy or have bought seafood from your local grocery chain, or have eaten it at your favorite fish house, then you most likely have eaten seafood caught by slaves. Unfortunately, until now there has been no way of knowing which is “clean” fish (fish not caught by slaves) and which is not. Thankfully, some light has been shed on the truth of the fishing industry, and we are relying on our grocery stores and restaurants to take the initiative to make a difference. Ultimately, though, it is our responsibility as consumers to buy only products that are “clean.” If we are unsure about the cleanliness of the product, then we should refrain from buying it.
In an investigation called “Seafood from Slaves,” Robin McDowell and Martha Mendoza of the Associated Press revealed the truth about where our seafood really comes from. Their investigation uncovered the horrible truth of slavery and human trafficking correlated with the fishing industry in Southeast Asia. Years ago, many young men without work turned to brokers to help them find jobs. Sadly, these brokers tricked the men by telling them they had found work for them. Eventually, the unemployed men were kidnapped, drugged and taken to small fishing ports, where they were forced to work with little compensation for up to 22 hours per day, and forced to live in cages. If a slave resisted or acted out in any way, he was beaten and whipped with the tails of stingrays, even left alone in tiny huts for months at a time. Many of these men hadn’t seen their families in years: in one case, a young man hadn’t seen his family in 22 years.
Thanks to McDowell and Mendoza’s thorough investigation and release of their findings, the Thai government performed their own investigation and immediately freed the enslaved fishermen. To date, there have been nearly 2,000 men freed. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only industry in which slavery is involved. Robin McDowell and Martha Mendoza are very pleased with their findings and the difference they have made in Southeast Asia; however, they are very clear in their message that this entire investigation wasn’t just to free the slaves in the fishing industry in a small village in Indonesia, but more importantly to shed light on the fact that slave labor is occurring worldwide with nearly every product that is mass produced. Click on the link below to watch Robin McDowell and Martha Mendoza’s story unfold.