Slavery and overfishing on the high seas can’t hide from these researchers

Thailand’s Seafood Industry Under Scrutiny
Fish are seen after being unloaded from a boat at the port in Songkhla on February 2, 2016. Around 100 people have been arrested by authorities in a recent crackdown on abuses involving Thailand’s multi-billion dollar seafood industry. The deep-rooted problem caused the huge global brand, Nestle in 2015 to admit that it had discovered clear evidence of slavery at sea in parts of the Thai supply chain. | Photo by Paula Bronstein / Getty Images

A tracking system designed to help ships avoid crashing into each other has become an important tool for spotting bad behavior on the high seas. Researchers can now put a spotlight on corporations that dominate fishing in unregulated international waters where it’s easier to get away with overfishing. And it’s giving us a better idea of how widespread slave labor could be on fishing vessels.

Two recently published papers use this technology, the maritime Automatic Identification System (AIS), to make high-seas fishing a little less mysterious. The first study, published in the journal One Earth on December 18th, traces the origins of thousands of high-seas…

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