The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, known best for its red, yellow, and green sustainable seafood-rating scheme, is unveiling its first Seafood Slavery Risk Tool today. It’s a database designed to help corporate seafood buyers assess the risk of forced labor, human trafficking, and hazardous child labor in the seafood they purchase. (No paywall)
More than three years after an investigation by the Guardian revealed that Thai fishing boats were enslaving their workers, Human Rights Watch reports that little has changed in the Thai seafood supply chain.
More than a third of migrant fishermen working in Thailand over the past five years have been victims of trafficking, and three-quarters of them have been in “debt bondage, working to pay off an obligation,” said Reuters, citing a new study by the anti-trafficking group International Justice Mission.
Responding to pressure from the environmental group Greenpeace, the world’s largest tuna supplier, Thai Union, has announced a series of initiatives designed to improve its fishing practices and protect workers from abuses. Thai Union owns the popular brands Chicken of the Sea and Sealect.
The UN International Labor Organization estimates 3.5 million people around the world work in forced labor conditions in agriculture, including forestry and fishing, says Civil Eats in a story on slavery in the food chain. "This means that forced labor has played a role in the supply chains of many of the most popular food and drinks."
Biotech startup New Wave Foods is selling "prawns" made from algae and plant ingredients, says The Guardian. “We’ve done a few blind taste tests—unofficially, you know—and until we tell people it’s made of plants and algae they can’t tell,” says the company’s CEO, Dominique Barnes, who has a background in marine conservation. Even the executive chef at Google was so impressed when he tried the product that he ordered 200 pounds.
The Associated Press won the Pulitzer Prize for public service with its year-long investigation "of severe labor abuses tied to the supply of seafood to American supermarkets and restaurants, reporting that freed 2,000 slaves, brought perpetrators to justice and inspired reform."
"Pervasive human trafficking" helped propel Thailand to the top tier of shrimp exporters, says an Associated Press investigation. The AP says that despite promises by government and business to clean up the seafood export industry, "shrimp peeled by modern-day slaves is reaching the United States, Europe and Asia."