Prawns have gone from luxury foodstuff to affordable pleasure. But while they are cheap to buy, the human cost of their production is unimaginable. This shocking exposé from Guardian Films reveals the invisible slavery propping up Thailand’s multi-billion dollar fishing industry, and the Western supermarkets who are cashing in.
“I thought I was going to die”, says Vuthy, a former monk from Cambodia who paid a broker to be smuggled into Thailand. He came in search of work, but ended up being sold from one fishing vessel to another. “They kept me chained up, they didn’t care about me or give me any food. They sold us like animals.” Tragically, Vuthy’s story is far from uncommon aboard the trawlers that ply the bountiful waters around Thailand – the world’s largest supplier of prawns. Every year, thousands of migrant workers seek illicit entry into the country, only to become victims of the endemic human-trafficking feeding the long, complex supply chain from boat to supermarket shelf.
This undercover investigation unearths a lawless and unregulated industry run by criminals, and facilitated by Thai officials themselves. “The way I see it, we’re business partners”, says one anonymous broker of his relationship with the maritime police. “You have to understand — everyone’s profiting from it.”
Many of the indentured labourers will not see land for up to two years at a time. Those who rebel are subjected to torture and summary executions. But with commercial interests satisfied, and cheap seafood on our plates, is there any appetite among Western consumers to put an end to this barbarism?
Guardian News and Media