“I knew if I stayed on that boat I was going to die.”
Those are the chilling words of one of the migrant fishermen who provide Whole Foods with its fresh, “harpoon-caught” swordfish and ahi tuna. But it seems “ethical and sustainable” only apply to the fish.
A shocking exposé has discovered that hundreds of foreign fisherman on American boats are being treated like victims of human trafficking -- they live in deplorable conditions, are paid 70 cents an hour and aren’t permitted to leave their boats, sometimes for years at a time.
Bed bugs, open sores, withheld pay and seized passports -- these are the conditions Whole Foods relies upon for the exclusive fish it sells at an enormous profit -- all the while bragging about its “sustainable seafood produced by Hawaii's hard-working fishermen.”
Tell Whole Foods to treat its fishermen with dignity. Clean up your supply line now!
Due to a legal loophole, some 700 migrant fishermen from Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam are permitted to work on American boats -- but without the labor protections afforded American workers. Their captains hold on to their passports and they aren’t permitted to leave the boats since they dock in American cities.
This state of legal limbo means the fishermen can’t even demand better working conditions since their bosses have complete control over their lives. Workers are deprived of food, paid well under US minimum wage, and complain about bed bugs, open sores and being forced to use buckets instead of toilets.
Demand Whole Foods take real action to clean up its seafood supply line now.
When we found out that the modern shrimp industry relied on slave labor to supply the world’s big box stores with cheap prawns we came together and made a difference. Over 150,000 SumOfUs members made Walmart and Tesco commit to ending slavery in their supply chains. We can do the same with Whole Foods, but as we write, migrant workers are still stuck on boats in horrible conditions. We need to act now.