Shrimp, tilapia cited in U.S. labor report


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
September 9, 2009

Shrimptilapia, Nile perch and lobster are among the 100-plus goods believed to be produced using child or forced labor, or both, in violation of international standards, according to a report released on Thursday by U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB).

The report, “List of Goods Produced by Child or Forced Labor,” is published annually as required by the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005.

The ILAB also released its eighth annual “Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor” as mandated by the Trade and Development Act of 2000. Both reports are available on the ILAB Web site.

Among the roughly 122 goods from 58 countries listed in this year’s report are shrimp from Thailand, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Burma; tilapia from Ghana; Nile perch from Tanzania; dried fish from Bangladesh; lobster from Ghana and shellfish from Nicaragua.

Shrimp producers in Thailand, by far the United States’ leading shrimp supplier, exporting more than 400 million pounds to the country last year, was cited for both child and forced labor, while shrimp producers in Bangladesh and Cambodia were cited for child labor and Burma was cited for forced labor. The United States imported 1.24 billion pounds of shrimp in 2008.

“It is my strong hope that consumers, firms, governments, labor unions and other stakeholders will use this information to translate their economic power into a force for good that ultimately will eliminate abusive child labor and forced labor,” said U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

Last April, the Solidarity Center, a Washington, D.C.-based workers’ rights organization affiliated with the AFL-CIO, released a report claiming that Asian shrimp workers are abused and subjected to dangerous working conditions. The report, “The True Cost of Shrimp,” singled out Thailand and Bangladesh. Both ILAB reports cited the Solidarity Center report.

Thai and Bangladeshi shrimp industries and the Global Aquaculture Alliance questioned the report’s findings.

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