Unveiling human trafficking and overfishing in the opaque global seafood supply chain (interview with Shannon Service of Ghost Fleet)
This is a conversation on Green Dreamer with Kamea Chayne, a podcast exploring environmental regeneration and intersectional sustainability from ideas to life. Subscribe to Green Dreamer on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or any podcast app to stay informed and up to date on our latest episodes.
Shannon Service is an award-winning, independent reporter and filmmaker who broke the story of slavery at sea for NPR’s Morning Edition in 2012.
Her new feature documentary, Ghost Fleet, follows up on that story as she sets sail with a Thai abolitionist who is scouring remote islands for slaves who’ve jumped ship.
On this podcast episode, Shannon sheds light on the difficulties in regulating our global fishing industry; how overfishing is tied to human trafficking and modern-day slavery at sea; how to address "fish-laundering" and support more transparency and traceability in the seafood supply chain; and more.
To start, get a glimpse below into the conversation between Shannon and Green Dreamer Podcast's host, Kamea Chayne.
On how overfishing relates to fishermen trafficking:
"Because of overfishing, there are so few fish that the boats have to go far chasing fish.
That means more fuel costs; it means more time on the water for less fish. There are a bunch of hard costs: the upkeep of the boat, all of the associated expenses with running a fishing company—all of those things, you can't really change.
So you're chasing fewer fish for more time. And as they fish more and more, that problem becomes greater. So the one place that a lot of captains and owners have decided they can save is in labor."
On the numerous benefits of consuming local, seasonal fish:
"We ask a lot of other products, like I know that this apple is biodynamic and it was grown in New Zealand; I get a lot of information about apples and about chicken, whether it's free range or pasture-raised.
But we have almost no information, most of the time, about fish.
So, in an ideal world, asking those questions and then also trying as much as possible to eat locally and seasonally abundant fish would make a huge difference, not just for your diet—it's much healthier generally—but also for your local fishing community, if you have one, and also for the planet and laborers at sea."
Shannon’s final words of wisdom:
"This is a tough time to be living in for a number of reasons, particularly if you're environmentally aware.
But it's so much more fun to be on the side of justice and dreaming."
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