Rep. Maloney: International Shrimp Industry Must Stop Exploiting Workers

Apr 22, 2008
Press Release
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), co-founder and co-chair of the Human Trafficking Caucus, delivered the following prepared remarks at the public release of a new report by the AFL-CIO allied Solidarity Center that details appalling human rights and worker abuses in the international seafood industry.  To read the full report, click here.

“As a co-founder and co-chair of the Human Trafficking Caucus and a long-time advocate for the protection of the world’s most vulnerable, I am here today to join Ambassador Lagon and the Solidarity Center to shine a light on the abuses that currently exist in the shrimp industry.

“Human trafficking is the 21st century slavery.  The State Department estimates that 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across borders each year while millions are enslaved within their own countries.  Tragically, many of these individuals are forced into labor trafficking. 

“As this report, ‘The True Cost of Shrimp,’ makes vividly clear, the seafood industry must do more to improve working conditions and stop the exploitation of workers. 

“We should all be more conscious of how the food we consume and the products we use reach us in restaurants and stores.  Just as we demand fair wages and safe working conditions for workers in the United States, we should expect nothing less for workers around the world.  I am deeply disturbed by the findings of this report including reports of beatings, sexual assault, child labor, and 20-hour shifts.  Simply put, it is unacceptable to treat human beings this way. 

“This report should serve as a wake-up call to the other industries around the world who are exploiting their workers, but who may think and hope that no one will find out.  We will continue our efforts to combat these horrible practices, and together, we will bring those who would exploit the vulnerable to justice.

“I now want to turn this over to my friend, Ambassador Mark Lagon, who is a true champion in the fight against human trafficking.

“Thank you.”