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Seafood Slavery

Take Action

Be a responsible consumer and help eradicate human trafficking in the seafood industry. One way is to have ethical tracking of the labor force and labeling for consumers to make a choice for slave-free seafood! Here is how you can become part of the solution:

Educational Materials

"Oceans of Crime: A Freed Slave." In this documentary from CNBC, a former slave talks about working on a Thai fishing boat.

The United States imports approximately 80% of the seafood we eat.1 However, recent studies have found severe cases of forced labor and human trafficking in the fisheries sector.  Victims often suffer from illness, physical injury, physical and sexual abuse, and even death aboard fishing boats.  Many are forced to work under horrendous conditions aboard vessels for months, years, or even their lifetimes.2


The Coalition of Organizations and Ministries Promoting the Abolition of Slavery at Sea (COMPASS) seeks transparency and tracking of the labor force in the seafood industry and the end to slavery within the industry, with freedom and safe, humane rights for all laborers.

Slavery in the High Seas

  • As the populations of fish species closer to land plummet from overfishing, industry vessels sail farther from shore and stay away from their home ports for years. 

Many enslaved laborers endure:

  • 18-20 hour work days, 7 days a week

  • Sleep deprivation, while still needing to operate dangerous machinery leading to accidents

  • Little food and water, and lack of basic health          and medical care for needs/injuries 

  • Over exposure to extreme weather conditions without proper clothing and safety gear

  • Brutal beatings and punishments, even death, for disobedience or not fulfilling demands T

Slavery in the Processing Plants

  • Men, women, and children are often imprisoned in the seafood processing and canning facilities on land, preparing the harvested seafood for the export market.

These enslaved laborers on land live under:  

  • Constant abuse and labor enforcement guards

  • Inhuman working hours

  • Total disregard for basic health and medical needs

  • Threats and carry through of extreme punishment and death

Special thanks  to the sources for this information:

“Together with the social responsibility of businesses, there is also the social responsibility of consumers. Every person ought to have the awareness that purchasing is always a moral–

and not simply an economic act.

                            Pope Francis, World Day of Peace, January 1, 2015

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