In Thailand The Cost Of Overfishing Is Trafficked Human Beings

Gwynn Guilford | Quartz | March 4, 2014

Thailand has a long-standing problem with human trafficking. Migrants from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos are conscripted into its seafood industry. A report out today from the Environmental Justice Foundation suggests that, despite increasing international pressure and Thai government attention, it’s still happening.

EJF found that industry operators are just working harder to avoid detection. One way they do that is to reshuffle and sell trafficked crew members while at sea, minimizing the risk of their escaping. This means victims of trafficking spend years at sea, virtually imprisoned by fishing boat operators.

Why is this happening? In addition to corruption and demographic trends, another huge factor is simply that Thailand’s fishing industry has ransacked its waters of fish. It’s “increasingly clear that the Thai Government’s chronically poor fisheries management has exacerbated this problem, as stocks have been over-fished and declining catches have led to operators cutting costs further by using slave and forced labour, keeping them at sea longer to make the catch,” says Steve Trent, EJF’s executive director.