Original research carried out in 2019; information verified and various sections updated in October-November 2020.
Prawns, squid, scallops, mussels… there are a multitude of seafood products we Kiwis enjoy!
Slavery is often involved in producing seafood, so we’ve researched what’s happening in the supply chains of seafood products, and prominent brands, currently available in New Zealand.
Find out how you can buy seafood while supporting the human rights of those involved in the supply chains.
Estimated read time: 5 minutes
Too long? Check out this one-page PDF summary.
Many kinds of seafood are at high risk of having slave labour in their supply chains. Imported shellfish is commonly either harvested or farmed with slave labour. Squid is often caught in highly abusive working conditions where pay is commonly withheld, and workers are often given drugs to keep them working 23 hours a day. Meanwhile many kinds of crustaceans are commonly peeled with slave labour, and farmed prawns may be fed fishmeal that is produced from fish caught by vessels using slave labour.
There are three main risk points for seafood products:
There are a few ways to tell whether seafood is slave-free.
If the supply chain is at high-risk for slavery (e.g. the seafood is fished in countries where slavery is prevalent, or is processed before being sold), extra checks such as audits can help ensure human rights are still upheld. Kingfisher is a good example of this and was a standout from the companies we researched.
If the supply chain is at low-risk for slavery (e.g. the seafood comes from countries with strong labour laws, and is sold whole) then it’s highly likely there are no concerns there. This is the case for several other companies’ products that we researched.
Below are the options we’ve found currently available in New Zealand that we’re confident are slave-free.
These types of shellfish are all wild-caught in countries with low-risk fishing industries, and compared to other products, they require much less processing before being sold in New Zealand. This means forced labour and child labour is unlikely to have occurred in the supply chain. Find out more in our research notes here.
Kingfisher’s prawns are from farmed prawns from Thailand, which usually would be cause for concern. However Kingfisher’s prawn farms are audited and their processing factories adhere to the UN’s Good Labour Practises. As for the feed fed to the prawns, we’ve learned that Kingfisher only buys from suppliers who are audited to check for slave and child labour.
Ocean Pearl’s prawns are wild-caught Australian prawns that are simply frozen on the fishing vessel.
The Australian fishing industry is low-risk for slave-labour, as is the Argentinian fishing industry. So any wild-caught prawns from these locations which are sold unpeeled would be slave-free, as there’s no concern at the fishing stage and no processing occurs since the prawns aren’t being peeled.
For the same reasons, unpeeled crayfish, whole lobsters, and unpeeled crabs from New Zealand and Australia also have slave-free supply chains.
Find out more in our research notes here.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to find any squid products that are definitely slave-free. Find out why in our research notes here.
For more information on this topic:
For other types of fish products, check out these pages:
Our bottom line is that fish, cocoa and sugar should be free of child and slave labour right back to the original boat or farm.
Within this, where possible we also: