Quantcast

3 Things You Need to Know if You Eat Sushi

Food

One in three pieces of sashimi is from fish caught by Taiwanese fishing vessels. If you eat imported seafood, chances are you’ve eaten Taiwan caught fish, so when we’re talking Taiwanese seafood, we’re talking about an industry that has an impact on all of us.

Tuna transshipment on the high seas in the Indian Ocean. Photo credit: Jiri Rezac / Greenpeace

In a race to make as much profit as possible, Taiwan’s fishing industry has long been linked to environmental abuse. But what is becoming clearer is that where there are environmental abuse, human rights abuses follow—and that’s what we’ve found in Taiwan’s fishing industry. A year long investigation released by Greenpeace East Asia has painted a terrifying image of what happens when a industry is virtually given free rein on the high seas.

Here are three things you need to know:

1. Shark Finning

There are an estimated 100 million sharks killed each year. Sharks get caught almost every time a longline is set (more than 90 percent of the time), regularly making up 25 percent of the catch in tuna longline fisheries and as much as 50 percent of the catch in some billfish longline fisheries.

In our most recent investigation, Greenpeace East Asia found at least 16 illegal shark finning cases in one port alone, in a three-month period—that’s approximately five cases per month. We can only imagine the scale of the practice across the whole tuna fishing fleet.

Frozen carcasses suspected to be sharks found in Dong Gang, Taiwan. Fins are not allowed to be separated from shark carcasses under legislation Taiwan passed in 2012, but in a single three-month investigation in just one port in Taiwan, Greenpeace East Asia uncovered 16 illegal cases of shark finning. Photo credit: Greenpeace

And sadly this seems to be happening right under the noses of Taiwanese authorities. One Taiwanese vessel, revealed to be illegally fishing, transhipping and involved in illegal shark finning, continued to behave unlawfully, even after Greenpeace alerted authorities.

2. Human Rights Abuses

With up to 160,000 migrant workers working on Taiwan’s distant water fishing vessels, the industry appears beset by issues of human trafficking and forced and debt-bonded labor.

Fishermen haul in their lines on tuna longliner in the South Pacific albacore tuna fishery. Photo credit: Mark Smith / Greenpeace

Recent high profile cases implicate Taiwanese vessels and companies in shootings at sea, human trafficking and illegal fishing and a complete picture emerges, that of an industry urgently needing reining in.

3. Exploitation

Interviews with dozens of foreign workers on Taiwanese fishing boats reveal a culture of exploitation, bullying and violence.

Frozen carcasses of fish suspected to be sharks in Dong Gang, Taiwan. Photo credit: Greenpeace

The report exposes Taiwan’s distant water fisheries’ abusive treatment of foreign crew. Interviews with South East Asian crew members reveal delayed and withheld payments, along with horrendous working conditions, exploitation by recruiting agents, verbal and serious physical abuse and death at sea.

So What Can Be Done?

We all knew there was a problem: six months ago, EU issued Taiwan a yellow card, warning of trade sanctions, but we didn’t have the full picture.

To date, Taiwan government appears to be moving towards the right direction by proposing new laws and adopting necessary revisions to the old ones. The problem is, you can make anything you don’t like illegal, but unless you police it and enforce it, it’s pointless. It’s time to spread the news far and wide that Taiwan’s fisheries industry is tainted by environmental and human rights abuses.

We can demand our supermarkets, sushi bars and stores buy from brands that can tell us where our tuna comes from and guarantee we’re not supporting human rights abuse, shark finning and illegal fishing if we’re buying seafood. Check out our tuna guides here.

A lot of this tuna ends up in the supply chain of companies like Thai Union, from where it is marketed across the world.

Join us in demanding Thai Union cleans up its supply chains.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Is the Seafood You Eat Caught by Slaves?

3 Most Environmentally Damaging Habits You Might Be Able to Change

How an Army of Ocean Farmers Is Starting an Economic Revolution

USDA Silences Its Own Scientists’ Warnings About the Dangerous Effects of Pesticides on Bees

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Scanning electron micrograph of Yersinia pestis, which causes bubonic plague, on proventricular spines of a Xenopsylla cheopis flea. NIAID / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

A middle-aged married couple in China was diagnosed with pneumonic plague, a highly infectious disease similar to bubonic plague, which ravaged Europe in the middle ages, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Milk made from almonds, oats and coconut are among the healthiest alternatives to cow's milk. triocean / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Dairy aisles have exploded with milk and milk alternative options over the past few years, and choosing the healthiest milk isn't just about the fat content.

Whether you're looking beyond cow's milk for health reasons or dietary preferences or simply want to experiment with different options, you may wonder which type of milk is healthiest for you.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Greta Thunberg stands aboard the catamaran La Vagabonde as she sets sail to Europe in Hampton, Virginia, on Nov. 13. NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP via Getty Images

Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist whose weekly school strikes have spurred global demonstrations, has cut short her tour of the Americas and set sail for Europe to attend COP25 in Madrid next month, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
The Lake Delhi Dam in Iowa failed in 2010. VCU Capital News Service / Josh deBerge / FEMA

At least 1,688 dams across the U.S. are in such a hazardous condition that, if they fail, could force life-threatening floods on nearby homes, businesses, infrastructure or entire communities, according to an in-depth analysis of public records conducted by the the Associated Press.

Read More Show Less

By Sabrina Kessler

Far-reaching allegations about how a climate-sinning American multinational could shamelessly lie to the public about its wrongdoing mobilized a small group of New York students on a cold November morning. They stood in front of New York's Supreme Court last week to follow the unprecedented lawsuit against ExxonMobil.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Alex Robinson

Leah Garcés used to hate poultry farmers.

The animal rights activist, who opposes factory farming, had an adversarial relationship with chicken farmers until around five years ago, when she sat down to listen to one. She met a poultry farmer called Craig Watts in rural North Carolina and learned that the problems stemming from factory farming extended beyond animal cruelty.

Read More Show Less
People navigate snow-covered sidewalks in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on Nov. 11 in Chicago. Scott Olson / Getty Images

Temperatures plunged rapidly across the U.S. this week and around 70 percent of the population is expected to experience temperatures around freezing Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
A general view of the flooded St. Mark's Square after an exceptional overnight "Alta Acqua" high tide water level, on Nov. 13 in Venice. MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP / Getty Images

Two people have died as Venice has been inundated by the worst flooding it has seen in more than 50 years, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less