Slaving for your seafood?

Human rights and animal rights are often interconnected. Animal rights is a social justice movement and its participants are often involved in helping people too.

The dirtiest jobs in the animal food industries are often done by people who are abused like the animals in the system. They’re undocumented workers, undereducated and lacking in resources or language skills and they can’t speak up for themselves and their situations.

Most of the time, people have the option of walking away–the animals don’t. So I feel for the animals, not the perpetrators. Sometimes, however, the dire situations people find themselves in, ties their hands too.

One example of this interconnectedness is in the fishing industry. In Thailand, men from neighboring countries are tricked into working on fishing ships. Of course I wish people wouldn’t entertain the idea of decimating the ocean for a paycheck, but I haven’t walked in their shoes. I don’t know the poverty they face. I don’t know about their struggles to feed their families. I can’t judge.

fishing boat

With over 25,000 legal fishing vessels in Thailand, and a vast ocean at their shores, the illegal boats easily blend in. Like any seedy underworld activity, they go unnoticed. Migrant workers can be bought for about $600, but their lives are worth even less.

The slaves on fishing ships are smuggled from nearby countries like Cambodia and Myanmar, with the promise of a good job. Once on the ships, they’re overworked, denied pay, beaten and sometimes even killed.

It goes on because the money is lucrative, because the demand for cheap fish is high, and authorities don’t prosecute. Victims who escape and speak up are often punished.

Thailand is the second largest importer of seafood to the USA. It’s going to take consumers to stop slavery. We need to take a stand and say no to an industry that is relentlessly cruel to the environment, animals and people.



6 thoughts on “Slaving for your seafood?

  1. I knew this goes on but not to this extent!! Very sad indeed. One thing that you mentioned at the beginning is that animal right’s people also care about human right’s issues. I have had to explain myself many times to people who tell me that I should care about people. I certainly do care!! I care about health, I am very sad to see family and friends die of cancer and heart disease. I know that growing food for people, instead of for cattle that will be slaughtered, would help feed more people. Our environment is important to people as well as all living creatures, and factory farming is devastating this planet.

    Thanks for making a difference, each and everyone of us can help and make a difference. We just need to care. ♥

  2. Science has shown fish to be sentient (able to experience fear and pain), and fishing exploits more sentient animals -possibly including human ones- by far than any other human activity. In addition to the estimated one to three TRILLION fish who are caught from the wild each year, hundreds of thousands of turtles, dolphins, whales, birds and other animals are incidentally killed by it. Plus the many billions of farmed fish who are killed for food each year. All of whom suffer immensely. The only way to not contribute to their agony is to not consume fish or fish oil. There is a bounty of wonderful vegan alternatives, including marvelous vegan seafood! More information can be found at and see:

  3. Thanks for the links. Great points. People often feel like it’s okay to eat fish–even after they give up eating land animals. I’m not sure if it’s because fish are less relatable, or if the myth that they don’t feel pain is so ingrained. They do suffer greatly and deserve to live like anyone else on this planet. Even if people don’t care about fish, I hope they stop eating them and help the other animals, like the ones you mentioned, who are killed as bycatch.

    • Thank you, Jean. However, I hope that people DO come to care about fish. As you noted, fish suffer greatly and are as deserving of life as anyone else. It is largely up to the animal protection community to help enlighten the public as to the sentience and admirability of our fellow aquatic residents. It largely ignores fish, to tragic consequence for these and so many other animals.

      • I agree. I think it’s because people haven’t been around them. People think pigs are dirty, turkeys are dumb, and fish don’t have memories. After spending time with animals, I hope people value them all. I think fish are so neat! So many variations!

        The scientific findings on the ability of fish to feel pain is a good start. And in terms of impact, since fish are the biggest group of exploited animals, giving up fish will make the biggest difference. I hope people learn that it’s also not healthy to eat them. Thanks for looking out for fish and sharing this info!

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