Shocking report into the Asian slave labour producing prawns for supermarkets in US, UK

asian trawler image


A six-month investigation has established that large numbers of men bought and sold like animals and held against their will on fishing boats off Thailand are integral to the production of prawns (commonly called shrimp in the US) sold in leading supermarket  around the world, including the top four global retailers: Walmart, Carrefour, Costco and Tesco.

The investigation found that the world’s largest prawn farmer, the Thailand-based  Chareon Pokphand (CP) Foods, buys fishmeal, which it feeds to its farmed prawns, from some suppliers that own, operate or buy from fishing boats manned with slaves.

Men who have managed to escape from boats supplying CP Foods and other companies like it told the Guardian of horrific conditions, including 20-hour shifts, regular beatings, torture and execution-style killings. Some were at sea for years; some were regularly offered methamphetamines to keep them going. Some had seen fellow slaves murdered in front of them.

More details on this shocking report can be found on the Guardian’s website


The facts 

Thailand produces roughly 4.2m tonnes of seafood every year, 90% of which is destined for export, official figures show. The US, UK and EU are prime buyers of this seafood – with Americans buying half of all Thailand’s seafood exports and the UK alone consuming nearly 7% of all Thailand’s prawn exports.

“The use of trafficked labour is systematic in the Thai fishing industry,” says Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s  Asia division, who describes a “predatory relationship” between these migrant workers and the captains who buy them.

“The industry would have a hard time operating in its current form without it.”


Below is the process which demonstrates how slaves are being used to produce prawns to your plate:


the big catch - part one the big catch - part two the big catch- part three


From this report it is clear to see how, as consumers, we need to be aware when buying prawns from the mentioned retailers, we should be more conscious on how this has arrived at this outlet and if indeed there are alternative outlets we can use to avoid using these poor slaves in the production.







One thought on “Shocking report into the Asian slave labour producing prawns for supermarkets in US, UK”

  1. The Guardian has taken the investigation carried out by the Environmental Justice Foundation last year a step further, serving these horrifying facts to a mainstream audience. The reaction by some industry players has been encouraging, though others were well aware of the ill treatment and human trafficking problems that mar the Thai seafood industry.

    A point that the Guardian has not highlighted with sufficient clarity is that the shrimp were in all likelihood being fed fishmeal from illegally caught wild fish.

    In the EU we have the most advanced illegal fishing controls in the world when it comes to wild caught fish, but these controls do not extend to farmed seafood imports.

    Closing this loophole is important: the EU is the largest and most lucrative seafood importation market in the world – we buy large amounts of and pay handsomely for foreign fish – hence, our diligence in weeding out illegal produce is key if destructive illicit practices are ever to be stamped out.

    Earlier this week the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, announced that in the light of the slavery allegations, the Thai shrimp sector may be probed for illegal fishing – a step applauded by many in the industry and beyond.

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