August 20, 2015
A California resident has filed a lawsuit against Costco Wholesale Corp. accusing the company of misleading consumers about their role in the rampant slave labor and trafficking of the global seafood industry, the epicenter of which is Thailand — a hugely controversial issue brought to light in part through lengthy investigations by The Associated Press and The New York Times.
A contributor to The Daily Meal also went aboard one of Greenpeace’s ships to learn more about tuna fisheries in the Pacific Ocean.
Among the discoveries made, fishermen from regions surrounding Thailand were found to have been forced to work nearly 24-hour days without pay and forced to live in captivity on a small island without outside contact. What’s more, the United States was found to be the biggest consumer of Thai fish.
Farmed fish from Thailand rely on those seafood slaves to catch their diet of cheap fish, which are also used to produce a great deal of America’s major pet food brands. Costco is accused of making false claims about the role of slavery in its own supply chain.
“Human suffering cannot be ignored to enhance a company’s economic bottom line,” the plaintiff’s lawyer Niall McCarthy, of Cotchett, Pitre and McCarthy LLP, said in a statement. “California consumers are unknowingly supporting slave labor.”
A spokesman for Costco downplayed its contributions to the slave labor-reliant industry, stating that the company was working closely with Thailand’s government “to address the issues that have surfaced” over the past year.”