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Disturbing News in the Fish Industry
By: Cindy Wendland
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AP News reported the findings of their yearlong investigation in Benjina, Indonesia. They found the fish industry is filled with men who are trapped and enslaved. The islands are remote, with little chance for the men to be seen, found, or helped. What do you do when your industry becomes tainted by reports of slave labor?

CEO Richard Stavis from Stavis Seafood said his business cares about abusive labor practices, and visits international processors, requires notarized certification of legal practices, and uses third-party audits. This still isn’t enough if AP is finding men in cages who report being forced to fish 20–22 hours a day, being beaten, and paid little to nothing.

Which fish is caught with slave labor and which is “clean” fish? By the time the fish reaches our shores, it is mixed with other fish and it's very difficult to tell. Should we stop eating all fish to make a point about slave labor on the other side of the world? Will reputable companies suffer because of the indecent practices of others? Yes and yes.

The reality is that it will be too expensive to monitor labor practices in a remote part of the world. Companies here will trust their counterparts overseas to ensure their fish is not part of the slave-tainted supply. But they will never know for sure. Companies here may issue statements saying they do not condone slave labor and they have practices in place to prevent that from occurring. Again, they will never know for sure. 

Just today during our tilapia lunch we talked about ways to prepare salmon. Both of those items are coming off our grocery list for a while. We lost our appetite.

   

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About the Author
Cindy Wendland has a background in marketing and finance. She is the creative director for an online men's health magazine, BrainBrawnBody.com, and she gets to write their leisure/travel blog. She is also a web designer helping her clients with online community engagement, websitesbywendland.com. Prior to her web years, she worked in pharmacy consulting.
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