A Boise Idaho weekly newspaper – the Boise Weekly – has published a telling story of a “poorly kept secret.” “Thailand’s fishing industry – a key supplier to the US – is entangled in barbaric slavery.” Most specific, per the story, is “trash fish” – a commodity reliant on forced labor and sold to pet food/animal food industry.
From the Boise Weekly story:
Wave after wave of damning investigations — previously by GlobalPost, most recently by The Guardian — have helped reveal an underground trade in which men are press-ganged into toiling on the seas for zero pay.
Smuggled from poor villages in Myanmar or Cambodia, with promises of jobs on land, men and teen boys are instead forced onto Thai-owned boats plying distant waters. Quitting is forbidden. Disobedience is punished with beatings, dismemberment and worse.
Many of these migrants — and the Thai boatmen who lord over them — have told GlobalPost that murder on Thai trawlers is practically routine. As one Thai crewman explained: “I saw an entire foreign crew shot dead… The boss didn’t want to pay up so he lined them up on the side of the boat and shot them one by one.”
This practice’s horrors have become so well known that — after years of giving Thailand a pass — the US may announce sanctions against the Southeast Asian nation this week.
But there is one commodity churned out by this industry that’s notoriously reliant on forced labor. It’s called “trash fish” — and it’s as unpleasant as it sounds.
Trash fish doesn’t refer to a single species. It’s a catch-all term for two types of wild-caught seafood: species that are unpalatable (to human tongues, at least) and species that would grow into big, tasty fish if nets had not snared them so young.
Trash fish are only valuable once they’re ground to a mush used to produce livestock feed, pet chow, fish oil and cheap processed food.
Dog and cat food: Ground-up trash fish are a common ingredient in pet food. No investigation has linked a particular pet chow factory to forced labor but “it’s wholly reasonable to expect that trash fish may be entering supply chains producing cat food and dog food,” Trent said.
Last year, $171 million worth of dog and cat food entered the US from Thailand, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. When it comes to dog and cat food in “sealed in airtight containers” — which typically means wet pet food — Thailand is America’s top foreign supplier.
To learn if the fish ingredient in your pet’s food is sourced from Thailand and perhaps a product of slave labor, call your pet food manufacturer. It is the responsibility of each pet food manufacturer to make certain they are purchasing ingredients from not only safe suppliers, but suppliers that do not utilize slave labor and do not incorporate ‘trash fish’ in their recipes.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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