WASHINGTON — Last June, media reports sparked an outcry over human slavery on fishing vessels — a dark side of the cheap shrimp and other seafood now sold year-round by stores like Costco and Walmart.
The horrors uncovered by the Guardian newspaper’s investigation included Cambodian and Burmese men being sold to fishing boats, forced to work at sea against their will for months or years at a time, victimized by violence, and left with little or no earnings at the end of their ordeal on the ever-emptier, overfished oceans. These men were packed below decks like sardines and half-starved.
The exposé has led to calls for consumer boycotts of seafood from Thailand, the epicenter of the scandal. This response — although understandable — neither helps those already trapped in this industry nor addresses the root of the problem.