Seafood in Many American Grocery Stores Was Caught By Slaves

A shocking new report from the Associated Press has found that some of the seafood sold in American stores like Kroger, Safeway, Wal-Mart and Albertsons may have been caught by workers enslaved by boat captains. For a year, AP reporters spoke to dozens of slave laborers in an Indonesian village, many of whom were trafficked from the impoverished country of Myanmar. Once in the possession of seafood suppliers, the conditions are truly horrific:

They said the captains on their fishing boats forced them to drink unclean water and work 20- to 22-hour shifts with no days off. Almost all said they were kicked, whipped with toxic stingray tails or otherwise beaten if they complained or tried to rest.

Reporters talked to several men who complained about the conditions, and are now confined “in a space barely big enough to lie down, stuck until the next trawler forces them back to sea.” Because of the complexity of supply chains, the fish is often hard to track, and is mixed in with other seafood at processing plants. The AP says that they contacted many major chains for comment, and all of them “strongly condemned labor abuses,” and said they were working to take measures to prevent buying from suppliers who use slave labor. The report is horrifying to read, and some of the quotes from the workers are devastating: “If Americans and Europeans are eating this fish, they should remember us. There must be a mountain of bones under the sea.” The piece also outlines some of the steps being taken to prevent slave labor, and why ending the practice in the seafood industry is so difficult …

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