A year-long Associated Press investigation has uncovered the use of slaves within the Indonesian fishing industry. Men are brought from Myanmar (aka Burma) via Thailand to Benjina, a small Indonesian island village. Myanmar is one of the most impoverished countries in the world. The men are desperate to escape it.

But once at Benjina they are locked in cramped bamboo cages, fed a little rice and curry each day, and forced to work long hours at sea – often up to 22 hours with no breaks and no days-off.

The men complained of being forced to drink unclean water, beaten and bullied, even whipped with toxic stingray tails and killed if they dare to fight back or attempt to escape.

The fish they catch is shipped back to Thailand. Here it is quietly introduced into the vast commercial stream of worldwide exports.

The Associated Press investigative reporters spoke with more than 40 current and former slaves. All of them had been imprisoned on Benjina.

Using satellite technology, the reporters tracked a single shipment of slave-caught seafood.

From Benjina the fish was sailed, unnoticed, into a small Thai harbour. The stock was loaded onto trucks. The seafood was then driven to dozens of factories, fish markets, and cold storage plants across the country.

At these sites the illegally caught fish entered the vast pool of bona fide produce, making its source completely untraceable.

After processing, the fish is exported all over the world. Dozens of products in nearly every country in the US, Europe, and Asia contain at least some of this slave-caught fish.

And by purchasing these products buyers are unwittingly supporting the practise of slavery.

When the AP reporters bought the results of their investigation to the major seafood corporations they were met with a wall of silence. Statements were issued condemning the practice of slavery, promises were made to prevent suppliers using forced labour, but no one would consent to an interview.

Some independent seafood distributors, however, were willing to go on the record. They lamented the punitive costs associated with ensuring the fidelity of their supply.

Large corporate buyers, half a world away, then have zero chance of identifying the source of their fish.

Slave-caught seafood, like blood diamonds, are part of the market.

Nor do the slaves themselves have any idea what happens to the stock they catch. When asked, all they knew was that the fish they caught was valuable and they were not allowed to eat it.

About The Author

Someone you can depend on to respect you and care for your dog. Let me help you give your dog the life it deserves.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.