EJF: Abuse, injustice in Bangladesh shrimp industry
In a report and film launched on Thursday, the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) claims evidence of human right and labor abuses that take place at every stage of the Bangladeshi shrimp industry.
The report, “Impossibly Cheap: Abuse and Injustice in Bangladesh’s Shrimp Industry,” states that Bangladesh’s shrimp supply chain is plagued by economic, labor and social issues and workers face exploitative working conditions.
Featuring interviews from investigations that took place on 2012, the report documents examples of hazardous working conditions, the use of child labor, bonded labor, withholding pay, excessively low wages, health and safety violations, restricted union activities, verbal abuse and excessive hours.
The report examines how global demand for a plentiful supply of cheap shrimp has caused rapid expansion of the industry and significant regulatory gaps. The majority of the sector is unregistered and informal and this, coupled with a lack of transparency in the supply chain, allows human rights and labor violations to occur unchecked.
“Impossibly Cheap,” claims there is a hidden human cost to shrimp imported from Bangladesh for distribution and sale in the EU and U.S. Current legal requirements for imports are concerned with food safety, hygiene and consumer health protection with little consideration of potential labor and human rights abuses in the supply chain of the producer country.
EJF is calling for the strategic and long-term commitment of all shrimp industry stakeholders to bring an end to human rights and labor abuses and foster the development of socially equitable and environmentally responsible shrimp farming.
The report follows EJF’s The Hidden Cost report and film published in September 2013 that documents accounts of human trafficking into the Thai shrimp industry, confiscation of identification documents, withholding of pay, forced detention and bonded labor.