Investigation of slavery in seafood industry nets AP Pulitzer Prize

Published on
April 19, 2016

The Associated Press was announced on Monday, 18 April as the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for its reporting on slavery and human rights abuse in the fishing industry in Southeast Asia. The investigation resulted in major reforms in the global seafood supply chain.

AP reporters Esther Htusan, Margie Mason, Robin McDowell and Martha Mendoza found and interviewed captive seafood industry workers in Indonesia and Thailand and followed specific loads of slave-caught seafood through the supply chain to cold storage facilities, processing factories and stores. The AP estimates their work has resulted in the freeing of more than 2,000 workers who were being held against their will and being paid little or nothing for their labor.

"With courage, integrity and tenacity, this team of journalists has shaken up the USD 7 billion-a-year Thai seafood export industry, engaged governments, corporations and consumers," AP Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll wrote in a nomination letter to the Pulitzer judges.

Htusan, Mason, McDowell and Mendoza, have already won several major awards for their work including the George Polk Award for Foreign Reporting and the gold Barlett and Steele Award for Investigative Business Journalism. Their work is now the subject of a new AP book, "Fishermen Slaves: Human trafficking and the seafood we eat."

Another seafood-related series earned Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram Staff Writer Colin Woodard recognition for his work from the Pulitzer Prize committee. Woodard was honored as a Pulitzer Prize finalist in the category of Explanatory Reporting for his reporting on “Mayday: Gulf of Maine in Distress,” a six –part series examining the impact of climate change on the Gulf of Maine.

According to the Press Herald, Woodard’s series, which was published 25 to 30 October, 2015, detailed the dramatic ecological changes occurring in the warming ocean region between Nova Scotia, Canada and Cape Cod, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

Woodard has reported on the environmental problems facing the oceans for the Portland Press Herald, The Christian Science Monitor, the San Francisco Chronicle and The Chronicle of Higher Education. He has reported from Greenland, Antarctica, the Central Pacific and the seas of Europe, the Caribbean and East Asia, according to the Press Herald.

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