This weekend while grocery shopping, I picked up a bag of shrimp to cook for my dinner this coming weekend. I turned the bag over a couple times to find out where the shrimp was from and discovered much to my dismay that the shrimp was from Thailand. Last week, I had the pleasure of seeing a documentary called Ghost Fleet, about the fishing industry in Southeast Asia. Human Trafficking is an issue that I have worked in and am passionate about fighting against. Southeast Asia is also dear to my heart as I have traveled to Thailand and Bali in the past couple of years.
Ghost Fleet highlights the incredible work by activist Patima Tungpuchayakul as she travels throughout Indonesia fighting to bring back enslaved fishermen. Some of the men had spent up to 10 years of their lives trapped in slavery, forced to fish in dangerous conditions without pay and without breaks Many of the men were unable to go home to their native countries because they had no money. They lost their limbs and in some cases their lives.
The fishing industry in Southeast Asia might seem like a foreign concept to us since we are so many miles away, but if you eat seafood you have probably benefited and directly supported human trafficking in the fishing industry. We live in a global economy where our goods can pass through multiple hands before it reaches ours. This weekend, I made the conscious choice to not buy the shrimp because I had no idea if Trader Joe’s sells ethically sourced seafood. After doing some research, I could have bought the shrimp at Trader Joe’s and been confident in my purchase.
The film is fresh on my mind and once you know better you have to do better. I will probably end up buying my shrimp from Whole Foods since their score was better courtesy of the Greenpeace Sustainability Supermarket Scorecard http://seafood.greenpeaceusa.org/. This website provides a deeper understanding of seafood sustainability as well as scores all the major supermarkets in the country so you know where they stand. Corporations will never do better until we, the consumers, demand better. I would also encourage you to see the film if you can. It is currently in select theaters throughout the US https://www.vulcanproductions.com/ghostfleet/TheFilm.