Tag Archives: seafood

Slavery in Seafood

Thai fishing boat with peopleThe seafood industry in Thailand suffers from widespread worker abuse amounting to slavery, according to a recent report by the nonprofit organization Verité. Virtually all American and European companies that buy seafood from Thailand are at risk of receiving products tainted by slavery, according to this report, which was released on Monday. The report catalogs deceptive recruitment practices, hazardous working conditions and very severe violence on fishing boats and in processing factories.

Most of Thailand’s seafood workers are migrants from neighboring Cambodia or Burma, brought into Thailand illegally by traffickers, provided fake documents and often actually sold to boat captains, the report said. On fishing boats, these workers routinely face limited access to medical care for injuries or infection, work 16 hour days, seven days a week, endure chronic sleep deprivation, and suffer from an insufficient supply of water for drinking, showering or cooking, the report found. They are not free to quit or leave. Often they are “kept” for year or even extended periods of time. The evidence of abuse is often just buried at sea. One Burmese worker said, “When someone dies, he gets thrown into the water.”

We reported on this sad state of affairs two years ago with the hope that conditions would improve. The Thai ambassador to the US says they take the problem seriously, but while they have clamped down a bit, it’s still not nearly enough.

Other human casualties of the animal products industry include those who work in slaughterhouses. While there’s no suggestion of slavery, slaughterhouse workers also face well documented abuses and very dangerous working conditions.

While authorities try to improve these problems, the best answer is to go veg. You’ll not only stop supporting worker abuse, but you’ll help the animals and the environment as well.

Octopus – Don’t beat it, don’t eat it!

OctopusThere’s been quite the furor recently after a diver was seen last year punching an 80 pound Giant Pacific Octopus at Alki Cove 2 he caught in order to subdue it. He said he wanted to capture it and take it home, “to draw it for this art project, and eat it for meat.” Outrage followed and has continued for the past year.

Part of his response is in essence that the octopus was sort of free range, and that a factory farmed octopus would suffer more, saying “He suffered, of course, at the end but not nearly to the extent of factory farming.” This reminds us of the dodge often employed by some consumers of more traditionally eaten free-range meats: “there’s worse.” While there may or may not be worse, there’s definitely better, much better. Don’t eat meat or fish all!

The diver goes on to say, “I feel kind of bad every time I kill an animal… That being said, I get over it. It’s life. You know, we’re predators, we eat meat. There’s nothing that’s going to really stop that or change that.” Not surprisingly, we strongly disagree! See our post on the natural diet for our anatomy and physiology to see why.

Don’t let the unusual shape of the octopus fool you. They have a brain and a complex nervous system, and they are both intelligent and sensitive. Octopuses have earned “honorary vertebrate” status in the European Union, where they are legally protected against “pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm.” British laws even give special protection to octopuses. So, yes, they are capable of suffering.

Now that you know why one shouldn’t beat it, here’s why you shouldn’t eat it either. Almost 25% of its fat is saturated, a serving contains 82mg of cholesterol and 391 mg of sodium, and of course it has no fiber. The local waters do contain some pollutants which seafood is known to bio-concentrate in their flesh.

There are much healthier choices. If you still want seafood why not try Sophie’s vegan seafood? It’s both much healthier and way more compassionate. Try ‘em at Vegfest!