Real Fishy Business – August 31, 2015

By August 31, 2015Uncategorized

Major seafood suppliers and distributors are under siege worldwide for practices that range from unthinkable to merely greedy. Government investigations and lawsuits are under way against such giants as Nestle, Costco, and the packers of Bumble Bee Tuna.

Costco has been accused of knowingly selling shrimp harvested by slave labor in Thailand. “Human suffering cannot be ignored to enhance a company’s economic bottom line,” plaintiffs’ lawyer Niall McCarthy said. “California consumers are unknowingly supporting slave labor.” A lawsuit filed in Federal District court in Los Angeles accuses Nestle of knowing purchasing illegally caught fish harvested and processed by both slave and child labor. “Nestle is presently not able to trace the fish that it imports back to the fishing boats that source it, much less ensure that the fish is not the product of slave labor. And meanwhile Nestle continues to profit from the slave labor that supplies its fish. This is shameful,” documents state. Nestle’s supplier, Thai Union, also the packer of Chicken of the Sea tuna, is currently in negotiations to merge with Bumble Bee tuna.  The US Justice Department is currently investigating the anti-trust aspects of that merger. “Even before the proposed merger, these two companies were cooperating closely. These interlocking relationships provided an excellent opportunity to collude on pricing,” the complaint in the lawsuit states. Last month Bumble Bee agreed to a $6,000,000 settlement over criminal charges for the death of a worker cooked in a tuna oven.

Know where your seafood comes from.

At this fishery in Phuket, Thailand, many Burmese laborers work in slave like conditions; many of the workers are illegal immigrants including younger workers from 9 years of age.
Photographer: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket 

Chef de Cuisine Becky Gabriele from Crew Restaurant with Lingcod arriving on Friday in Poughkeepsie, NY from Neah Bay, WA. Our Maria de la Motte talked to Chef/Owner Tom Kacherski and said “the special is selling like hotcakes”.

Thankfully the US appears to be heading the international community in a better direction in managing fisheries. As the arctic melts and Russia tries to stake claim to arctic resources, NOAA fisheries is delivering World Class Science. And the Protecting the Honest Fisherman Act was introduced in Congress last month. Hope springs eternal.

Sea to Table is most excited to be working with more west coast fisheries. Our newest team member, Ren Ostry, is based in Los Angeles, and will be working on connecting west coast chefs with both local fish and seafood from all around the country. Californians need to know who caught their fish too.

All the best,
from the Dimin Family and the Sea to Table team