« Reveal

Hunting the Ghost Fleet (rebroadcast)

2018-10-13 | 🔗

We hike through the jungles of El Salvador to find an elusive fleet of shark-fishing boats implicated in overfishing and possible human trafficking. Then we join a UN mission to intercept a crewmember from one of those boats who might be a victim of human trafficking. Finally, we investigate a U.S.-based seafood company that purports to be a model of sustainability.

From reporters Sarah Blaskey, Ben Feibleman, Robin McDowell, Margie Mason and Martha Mendoza, producer Michael Montgomery, and editor Brett Myers. This show was originally broadcast June 30th, 2018.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hey, it is your favorite host in all of pod custom. Now for the rest of the year, I'm gonna be asking you to join us by becoming a member of reveal reveal is all about going deep, pulling on threads telling stories that matter for more than three years now reveal has been fighting a lawsuit. That's been jeopardizing our very existence of restoring. We about an organization called planet aid. Our story raises serious questions about whether international aid was actually reaching the people. It was intended to help and what's more, our story was truthful and we stand by it. We believe it's our duty to fight attacks like this, but fighting a lawsuit comes at a huge costs, are legal fees alone totalled more than seven million dollars? Luckily, we have pro bono legal support to help our in house counsel, but it still takes significant resources, resources that should be used to do more public service journalists, this kind of investigative
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the sound of a remote controlled aircraft, a droll small enough to fit into a backpack. Can peer into a world. Some people don't want you to see the Joan hovel over the jungle near the Gulf of one. Second, southern El Salvador was it's like a giant mosquito
Is it so? That's controls or two young Americans reporter zero Oblonsky follow journalists been fibre jungle, the crouching low in the jungles thick vegetation near the water s edge, try and keep a low profile one hundred metres fit Canada. I don't see anything the drone moves out over the war. You see. If I can see the thing up, sport mode got it hard. There we go while I can hear it. Sarah been track its video feed on a small screen. That's the big poured over there. Ok, they're, looking for ship there's a chinese name of vietnamese crew and lucrative cargo sharks and their fins,
Dark fish soup is a status symbol in some asian countries. Single bowl can go for a hundred dollars or more. For the past decade, there's been a global campaign to end the trade in shark fins, but in Central America, despite new regulations, shark exports are on the rise. Some species, like the hammerhead, are being pushed to the brink of extinction. Sarah spent years investigating the shark finning traveling up and down the West Coast of Central America to figure out whose profiting from this destruction, which he found his story that goes way beyond swordfish we pick up the journey before Sarah had been find themselves lodging their drawn in the salvadoran jungle about four hundred miles south Coast to weaken the oceans right. There, too, I left is a little like yes, miss out to an island opponents lotion. It's a tiny, tiny little finger of land that sticks off of the Pacific Coast,
Ben and I are driving into Punta and ass, the shark fishing Capital of Central America. Its home to multi million dollar companies that export shark fin we more shark but Has been shed in this town than any other place in the region? I am here to confront the owners of the oldest and biggest shark company around, not sure if this is one way Those companies are hidden behind high walls and covered docks. But if you know where to look, you can still catch a glimpse of what fits. This is bends first time here and sometimes a bit unfiltered. I don't know shit about sharks, but that's a fuckin. Then I can see that gathers orphans bends and Ex marine, which makes them a good reporting partner. Here, the costa rican National police warned me that reporting on this industry can be dangerous and I learned that some of the boats are involved and poaching drug running and human trafficking.
Put that are not used to be a sleepy port town with little boats fishing close to shore, then in the nineteen eighties, commercial fishing changed. We live with our back towards the sea we have that huge resource and then the shark fin crazed starts happening. Costa Rica. This was a huge party costa rican conservationists, Randal Outhouse, says the shark fin craze with sparked by the arrival of long liners a type of vessel that component Thousands of fish at the time was a delegation of fishing experts from Taiwan that brought them to Costa Rica. Some never went home, He started the whole shark fin industry in Punta, As taiwanese fishermen started businesses, they establish the biggest long running fleets in Central America and ran suspected they were wiping out endangered sea life, so a of mine he the job on a lonely boat. Ninety ninety seven as a cook, he gave his friend a video camera and he was like it was a family video since he was from polluter and, as you know, the fishermen so
around even say hi to the camera, so they all that their garden. In the grainy VHF footage. You see, fishermen dragging in all sorts of creatures onto DEC see lions giant turtles and, at the very end, a blue shark. It still alive gurgling as the crew slice, off. It's been watching the creature rye, this huge trunks of sure hacked off its body. I have to fight the urge to throw up. Then fishermen kick the shark overboard back into the ocean to die This way they fill up the ship's freezers with only the most valuable part of the shark, and this practice has led to massive for fishing. I saw that and I was like what
the hell. This with some of the first footage, people had ever seen a sharp being feigned alive. It helps Burke outrage in international bands and hacking offence from live sharks. Costa Rica also outlawed, lie finning and imposed other restrictions by catching sharks and exporting fins that still legal, so they're still money to be made here. So it looks like a bunker, looks like an embassy yeah. It looks like an embassy exactly banana arrive at a huge compound surrounded by tall sand, colored walls. This is the head
As for the long grew documents indicate, its fleet is responsible for more than sixty thousand shark deaths a year. The docks blocked by a sick metal gate that a guard opens for us. Thank you we're here to meet Fabio wrong. He's the Son of God Those taiwanese fishing experts who came to put that ain't us back in the nineteen eighties Randal calls Fabio the gods. Other of shark fishing in the region and I've been trying to EL down an interview with him for months, he's finally agreed, but only I told him. I've uncovered documents about him in the Panama papers. They ve helped me figure out that he and his brothers seem to be operating. Business behind a bunch of shell companies which shark populations and steep decline. The one group is the only
company we found in Central America that has its hands in every part of the supply chain. That's what I'm here to confront Fabio ready. He greeted us at the entrance wearing jeans and blue polo sure. Why are there and ass. I am I being Fabio, put a bit of a shell walking me through a huge empty these in baron warehouse. This is really a here the operation, but mostly empty at this point, then we walked toward sick. Resting long liners tied up it is dark. Fabio tells me the boats aren't working, and neither is he he says, he's folded closed up shop. A comment again, all most angels. We moved to a big actually really. We sit beside each other in a huge table, That's where I saw him those documents. I've brought along I point to one ship is an example
the hunt, chiefly in fact, keeps telling me the same thing at the family. Business broke up, the fleet left and he doesn't know what happened to it: What fabulous thing doesn't add up the records I've uncovered. He and his brothers are still the owners and that there still fishing, but where, And then I go see someone who might have some answers were here in a small doc down a dirt road at a dark. Hoddan may seek the where Sergio rents a space for his boat. Sergio soaked opinion used to for the one group. He's only is thirty's, but already he spent more than two decades shark fishing. He walks us towards one of his boats, Tarzan, sex
like other international long liners most of the space, is taken up with giant freezers, the whole crew sleeps in a tiny nook, the size of a closet, The first thing we see on board is a huge real sport, tight with fishing line hooked up to a giant winch. The lines on these boats stretch four miles fitted with thousands of steel hooks. That's longline right there. They they want us kilometre of this all media about fifty mile long line. Look how thick that is, Sir Hugh says he follows the law. He flies the costa rican flag, doesnt, cut funds from wives, sharks and doesn't sell endangered species like hammerheads uses following those laws cuts in the profits.
And things that has a lot to do with why Fabio left, because it goes. I think it's because you d want to fall regulations, because fishing is still happening out there and there are still shorting solvency Sergio says the WAN boats are still fishing sharks. They fly the flag of believes a country widely criticised for failing to an where's maritime laws and they stick to international waters staying at sea for months at a time- and they do that said here says by transferring their catch to another boat that then delivers the sharks to remote ports. These types of transfers are illegal and Costa Rica without a special permits easier and quicker, and more to see that a lot in international waters and memorable, assuming, of course, that we have regulations and goes to Riga. We really did those people entering lies ahead. Then said he tells me something I don't expect. He says it's not too sharks and overfishing. For the warm ships to stay out at sea so long they rely on cheap labour. Migrants from Asia,
under terrible conditions governing bangers doing your aid. The captain, is their own to meet its modern day, slavery slavery and human trafficking are well documented in the fishing and seafood industry. It turns out that local prosecutors, one investigated the wants for trafficking migrant workers formation. They couldn't bring a case because the crew wooden testify I started. Circling backed my sources and almost everyone seems to have a story about the crews on those long vessels Randal arouse the conservationists behind that shark FIN video says out in international waters, I'm not shark fin. Video sets out an inch national waters, there's no real oversight, we it's some kind of rules, but there are no rules right now. The high seas, overfishing, human trafficking
the really know. What's going on, I need to find those boats. How do you find a boat in the Pacific that doesn't want to be found will thus differ apart many times. You really think we can rely on to see these boats a satellite telemetry, but then how can you identify it? So it's working on the high seas does pose a lot of problems, but nobody can stand see forever. To come into port somewhere at some time after months of searching, we get really really lucky A source tells me along vessel might be offloading sharks and southern El Salvador three days later than an iron there,
We're hiking along the gulf of funds in a spot where the dense jungle needs of water. One thing I wish or we're we're trying to get into a small private port in the town of flowering young We tried to get into a small private port in the town of allowing young its protected by huge walls and security guards. Who wouldn't let us say so. Instead we're trying to get close enough to launch Brown to try to help find the shit it's a last resort only we're going to get a look at what is happening in that for a beau passes its occupants wave and I waved back when does actually it's a bad idea, I mean there's gringo and then there's pawkins by. He has a point.
A short time we ve been here. We ve been followed around town and pulled over at gunpoint by police wanting to know what we're up to this area important yours, known for drugs and gangs, and it's not the kind of place you wanna get caught snooping. So we further into the jungle. Data on Iraq. There's no way really does need to weigh up the. We have left We are in the smallest clearing in the jungle. I've ever seen this like a web, to me bad ten feet wide. This is a great place. Unless let me check them, then positions to drown carefully their branches in fines everywhere we are. Where are we? the drowned out over the gulf and then double back toward the port, making sure to keep illegal flight path.
We're gonna go to a really high altitude so that we can see everything kind of like you to spy plans of all looking Small video feed with zero in the port there it on the long liner its flying the Belize flag and there's a name written on the site. You can read it, close friends who hunt chief who hunt chief who the boat Fabio? One said he knew nothing about we're getting out of here. Ok, let's go so the fleet is still act. Who is owned by photos, brother and managed through the long group in Costa Rica. But what about the crew in the who is owned by Fabio brother and managed through the one group in Costa Rica, but what about the crew in those traffic?
allegations loan port number, seven, seven to nine. Ok, here, I learned he manages the hunting through well its import or law or love. When asked ass, they could come my conversation with learned, he manages the hunt, you feel well its import or love. When asked ass, they could come. My conversation with Pablo goes like this. He says he can't give me access to the border crew since he's not the owner where so I ask him who is Pablo dodges and says the WAN group Fabio, I ask He says yes, Deniston shifts. He tells me words out around town that I'm looking for him by so many questions
What am I really after? All of this makes me really nervous, though, that wasn't good. I don't think they were safe here anymore, I don't know who might be watching us before we came here ban and I made a deal. We really wanted to find the boat, but given the dangers we get out of town at the first time, here ban- and I made a deal- we really define the boat, but given the dangers we get out of town, at the first sign of trouble, and me, public reaction is troubled but we have one thing left to do. Just landed and official tour of the port, and we want to one last shot at getting to the crew. I hear they only. We create new means. So I write a note and have translated. I keep. Simple? In case the captain see said I have questions about the hunky food.
Tell them how they can contact the next day. It's a hundred These went back and I took the floor. It looks like a big parking lot with a couple metal warehouse it as we round one of the buildings we straight into a man getting off. The hum, chiefly, is young, then wearing a pink shirt that looks stiff from months of washing it in seawater. Worth that I try English and spanish. The only two languages. I've got money maybe it now be our guide laughs at me when the young man doesn't seem to understand what I'm saying, then I reach into my purse and pull out the note, when he unfolded and sees its written and vietnamese his eyes widened quickly, walk so stuff in the note in his pocket.
Within a week, crew members start messaging me they say, conditions on the ships are terrible and that some want to get off, but they can't messaging me. They say, conditions on the ships are terrible helps describe one tissue, roomy, chilling message. It says help me that's coming up on reveal the centre for investigated, Describe one particularly chilling message: it says help me. From coming up on reveal reporting and pr ex. This is reveal an hour. From the centre for investigative reporting and p R. Ex this is reveal a reality today
We re hearing the story from Porto Sera Blackie. She spent more than a year searching for an elusive fleet of shark fishing boats in Central America, and she got tips that the boats were crewed by asian men forced to work. Hence the will before the break. Sarah, along with photojournalist, been five women where remote poured in southern El Salvador. They just lived to know translated Vietnamese into the hands of one of those crew members now weeks later, some of the men are beginning to reach out, Sir picks up the story from here and back in the. U S, when my phone pangs with a message, I use an app to translate it vietnamese- it's a guy named pon when it reads I'm on a boat in El Salvador. I want to leave.
Can you help me. I get him on the line along with a female interpreter of that's the translator tonnes talking to us from the boat which has just arrived at port. Can you explain yet If no look, much Eagle Eyed the amendment he is under a bit busy. Can you call back to him in about ten minutes? course he's worried. Someone might find out he's talking to us. Is it a safe place to talk? Do you want to wait for five minutes, because many people there he slipped onto the dock, to get away from the crew when we talk with he says is back, is injured and his bosses won't. Let him go home or even see a doctor, though the king has been for four months and it goes and disappear. It doesn't
he'll through the translator. I learn that time is nineteen. He works on a boat called the dragon, twelve owned by the one group. It's part of all the shark fishing operation in Central America. How long has he been fishing on this boat in that vote? A money not yet coming back to the shore eight months at sea at the beginning, when he had just started the journey from the point of light was still good, but after some time before is owing lesson and less and he has led to eat now. A supply about brings them food and takes their catch back to shore, allowing them to fish continuously. Tat says the crew sometimes goes for days with little food or water
While they wait for that boat to arrive, yeah, he drinks wander from air conditioning, he says. Sometimes all they have to drink is water. They collected from the air conditioning unit outside the captain's quarters over a three day period. We exchange a flurry of messages and cause, but never for very long. Sometimes it's because pang gets nervous five other current and former crew members. Tell Bannon me similar stories I want to put. Delegations to the WAN group, the company that owns the boats, but representatives didn't respond. However, the problems didn't just start on the boats tongue. Tao, who we speak to through another interpreter, says his problems began with a recruitment agency back in Vietnam.
No amnesia lay the aging and when he signed the contract he thought he was just going to Taiwan's a fish, You didn't know that they were going to go to control. Tongue. In the others say they signed two year contracts with a company called cervical Conaway. It grids vietnamese men to work on fishing boats around the world crew members tell me that, company promises to send four hundred and fifty dollars per month to their families, but they say there were lots of things. They didn't know about the work, even really basic things. That they be fishing sharks or out at sea. Sometimes for more than a year at a time working seventeen our days with no brakes, an empty, identical, whirling, so efficient location, there's a lot of fish that are just keep on working and when they finally make it pouring they dont have
their documents that given the this is something they all told me. Whether there on land or at sea they never get there. Hands on their passports. Some of the guys post videos online- and I dug up a few in this One it's nighttime and three men are sliding around the deck of a liner and heavy wins they're pulling in a shark that still alive and fighting hard. They kill it with an electric shock. Me. Four thousand people die every year. A fishing on the high seas tongue says Fifty mile long lines, barbed with thousands of steel hooks, are constant danger. Ma am I do that you did not care for when they fish the shark picking at home and then they could get pool into the sea level. But more many of the crew tell me
I can't swim and got no training before heading out to sea. So if it's, oh dangerous and the pay so low? Why don't you just quit? It's a question Ben posts through an interpreter to another crewman, why? Why doesn't why dont people just say to Hell with you I'm going home? I wanna go home because we catch he's talking about a penalty, a fine here's, how the guy Sant works. Cervical Conway requires a deposit of three months wages to guarantee the fishermen finnish out their contracts. If they try to quit, the company keeps the deposit plus a fine of another. Three months pay six months, total payable in cash or in labour, and if they try to jumped ship, the fines are even higher,
So let me get this straight. You quit now. They won't send you home until your family pace or you work for three more months. Is that how you get out his tongue tells us fine is the only reason he and some of the other crew stay. They want to go home, to Vietnam, but they don't have money to pay the company to release them from their contract. We reached out to cervical Hano, about these allegations speaking through interpreter company representatives pointed to yearly inspections by the vietnamese government and said they ve never been penalised. They
The company does imposed fines in some situations, but would not provide specific details. A few days after TAT first contacted us for help he reaches out to ban. He says he bowed his head back. To see soon, and it could be months before he's back on shore then cause me to read towns message: research can I go. I said what happens if they make you go. He said he does not know what to do if they make em go back out. We tell town will try to find help, so I reach out, The international organization on migration, the you an agency that deals with human trafficking, the ions documented trafficking and other abuses among vietnamese fishermen on foreign fleets. A lot of its similar. What I am hearing I get on the phone to weigh up on story to Roy Linda willed. He worked for the ILO. Em in Central America is their precedent for this situation.
I'm not actually were situation exactly like this. Based on what I tell him about time, Rhineland says, he's probably a victim of human trafficking and that we need to act fast to try to get em off the boat. We call for you, you can't be enforcing so the books, but one for his parents cannot be forced to pay. Laws on trafficking. Very what's illegal in one country could be legal and another, and regardless of whether tonnes contract is lawful in Vietnam, some mental. Me. Families have paid to free their sons from these boats pants as his family doesn't have the money from a poor family like they're. Not gonna be able to get a lawyer and fight back I am I'm waiting, I'm waiting on a response for the mechanics of all of that from my colleagues in Vietnam. The next few days, Europe learn some class trying to figure out why
Do I connect with another ion rap Mark Brown, the country director in Vietnam? He says they might have a way to get tough home and protect him from the fine but don't need someone to carry the message at this point. The letter saying that our offers genuine it like China Gout again, but he needs to turn it down with full information, tells like he's not doing so, but will help you. You are more trustworthy to speak with him. We need to talk with time now do for some messaging app but face to face. Sit down town, seen jobs, jobs between child said hello, hello, faint chow.
Three days later banana, our back in El Salvador, practicing basic Vietnamese, so we can at least say hi when we meet on we're, headed to the port of allowing young back where we flew that Jerome or dry. In a caravan with a rap from the ILO Em into salvadoran immigration officials and we're going over the plan. The idea is that time will leave the port to go, buy cigarettes so, as captain and crew maids won't get suspicious and then I'll meet time alone, because he trusts us we'll take him back to the hotel and talk to him through an interpreter on them. If he decides to accept help, the ILO Em in the immigration officials will be waiting near by the key, is for us to wait and let tat make the first move, but that's not what happens
when we get to the hotel one of the salvadoran immigration officials, a muscle bound I will go, seems impatient with waiting and that's when everything goes sideways. They're going to support why The salvadoran immigration official is heading two, the port, to try to rescue town in front of everyone, the rest of the crew, even ponds captain he doesn't speak Vietnamese or even have access to a translator and pond no idea he's coming right behind a freaking out here, because we are the ones that told TAT we could meet up with him without causing a scene. You just go tell them that their making a big mistake, because we don't even know where we're meeting him. Yet we may meet him in the migration office, I'm giving him the options now Bennett,
are still at the hotel on the island messages ass. They left their at fort and they say we can still in our view time there all immigration office is the opposite of the loan. Profile plan agreed upon just a few hours before then my phone rings, its ton he's called he's fine and he's wondering where we are. He thinks we forgot about him. Let's not forthcoming. When we pull up to port, we see them oh crew, swarming around the office, everyone's talking there's a translate The phone trying to help us make sense of it all using the ship,
I'm sitting on the curb head down. He looks like a kid he's getting busted by the cops, I try to say hi any barely looks up, the immigration. She'll stands over time, taking pictures with a cell phone. He says Tom looks fine and is probably faking it to get off the ship. It's care and tat seems desponding, In writing. We neglect, it a twenty four hour shore past time in an their crew member who seems to trust pile into the car with Ben. In me, voyages Travis here, because I think they are only one young man the ILO, I'm an immigration officials follow behind us. They agreed away downstairs what we try to calm pine and our hotel room. I can't help it
We ve already made things worse for him. Hundreds stares at the floor he so quiet and has to explain the silence to the interpret on the phone shy to the point of I can't even years I see hasn't said a word that I can remember. Unlike the last hour, tat message me from crossed the room he wants to talk alone, so we go outside. I don't smoke, but I know time does so I offer a cigarette whenever actually say anything out loud sitting near the hotel pool ton, and I pass my phone back and forth typing messages into a translation app. We managed to have our first real human conversation. Tells me. He misses Vietnam,
a few cigarettes later tongue confide something his back does hurt, but it not the real reason he needs to get home when he came to port does he found out his mother was very ill. He tells me he's trying to get back to be with her at this point. Just waiting for a call from Ireland. Vietnam, so can learn more about its options. But another message comes first, please bring the two sailors of our ship back on board urgently It's from another fishermen on the boat owners. Ask for it, so please bring our two sailors on its an emergency. Thank you Hon looks terrified when I shall, in the message he's no interested in the call with the ILO Em and wants to go back to the boat immediately he's worried. This will make everything worse and that the fine will be even steeper
That's what remains for warning now for outside with the interpreter We decide how to return TAN and his friend port without making things more complicated, so we're gonna drive back in the car ponder stares at the floor. His friend tells Not to worry that they're going to be fine, but he has been dropped them off outside the dock, so they can walk back alone arise tonight right there. Again then still on the line with the interpreter should really
we are in the end honestly. Thong looked scared to death. He looks super, not happy to be involved. The next day, eight tonnes sends me a message saying tomorrow my master will come here. I guess mean someone from the long group, the company that owns the shark. Both the Iowa tries to contact on over the next few days, but he becomes less and less responsive. It's over all, that's left us to say good bye are so do we agree that this is what I want to say. I really hope the best for you. I hope you get home soon. I cannot do anything more for you. I'm going home tomorrow
You know when you get home best. Sarah yeah he's basically said already there. This is what was right hand I'm sending it. About a month after suicide by tat time, we got word that he returned to Vietnam, crewman I still say that he bought his way out of his contract, paying more than twenty four hundred dollars in fees to cervical hello.
The vietnamese labour come now that's more than five months with wages as follows: sharp votes control by the one group, just as we were wrapping up this story, the vessels disappeared from international fishing registries. That means the boats can no longer operate legally anywhere in the world. In other words, the fleet has gone dark thanks to Syria blast you for that story, then firebombing contributed to the report before us. Vince outstanding photos on a website. You can see portraits of some of the people in the story and much more. Revealed news that'll work, slash sharks when we come back leaving sustainable seafood company said one thing and sold something else. That's next on reveal, for this therefore, investigative affording in p r
from the sooner for investigating reporting. It p or eggs vis is reveal a mallet today show we first brought you back in June, looking at human trafficking and slavery on the high seas and how these problems taint, the world's food pipeline. It something a team Poor is fully associated. Press has been investigating over the past few years. They ve expose abuses and seafood ensue from forced labour to migrant workers locked in a cage yeah. I can't in light of recent developments, I don't which you hear. It is a
invested, bars on a tiny island in Indonesia about three years ago. Thousands of miles locked up with other migrants. The man says he was forced to work on efficient and when he told his captain, he couldn't take it anymore. He's put in a cage mail, just a few yards away. Other men are loaded cargo ships, seafood caught by slaves, some of its heading into supplied networks of major. U S, supermarkets in restaurants! We weren't expecting to find a slave island and in fact that's what we did Robin Macao the part of a peace reporting allow with Marge Mason, Martha Mendoza in Esther Tucson. I think those images were really incredibly powerful and really prompted an immediate reaction. When these stories were first published, they lead to the rescue of more than two thousand men. There were rests, seizures of millions of dollars and goods and calls for big changes in the industry. The appease investigation seafood from slaves.
The Pulitzer Prize, but it wasn't over. The reporters in their editors asked themselves if the global see food industry is this abusive and corrupt? What are some solutions? It was really a question that had been nagging at us for a long time and at a certain point we decided to look at the obvious answer, which is sustainable, seafood, local American caught sight sustainable seafood harvesting food from the sea in a way that preserves fish stocks and the environment is growing portion of the seventeen billion dollars seafood market in the? U S and it's an idea that brought together a couple hundred people back in April at a microbrewery Greenpoint book, young people, foolish techies, listen to talks on the future of sustainable seafood, Seaford fucked up holding a microphone addressed in genes in a casual button.
In the short term, it is the owner of sea to table its business, built on trust that consumers can know whether fishes coming from down to the body of water, the boat, sometimes even the cap. Does a lot going on and seafood it's a big intern actual commodities market with lots of bad players. Bad actors must information and what we do you think you s wild, caught, sustainable and traceable. That's it Jones. Business is trying to take an experience of flying fish straight off. The docks it make it accessible to everyone he's a switch. They call it from doktor doorstep. You order on line and a rise, usually the next day, the pact in Eco friendly insulation. We can't just be Brooklyn Hipsters hang out and talk about the name of the fish, a single fish coming from a single fishermen. We have to be able to vote. The scale we have to be able to do it at national distribution. We have to create a new model,
exactly what people want to hear. They want to know exactly where their food is coming from and that their pain for something. I really believe in sea the table is a darling in the food world Faced by a celebrity shifts and environmental groups, but the ape he heard something very different from sources inside the industry as a business grew see, the table was, one thing and selling something else: fishermen, air College, is one of those sources Sancho get off. We caught up with air at the in Santa Barbara, where he was unloading his days catch from sixteen, a limited skiff heavier four hundred and fifty pounds of fish by noon. So for us, that's a good day aired Scott bleach. Blonde hair down to his shoulders is red. Jacket is faded, pink from so much time in the sun, he's been fishing. His whole life small scale calls himself a local direct fishermen aiming out
What's going on, Miguel is Erics broker like eighty pounds, like relieving copper from some red, he'll deliver some of this fish directly to LOS Angeles and into the hands of top chefs. Today insufficient in high demand, but three years ago he was struggling with distribution. That's when he heard about c to table face said you know on their website we connect seeing restaurants, where small time, fishermen and my go ahead as me, one of your heart that, but he says right from the start, there were red flags see: two tables website was offering fresh canary rock fish from Santa Barbara, something there was illegal to catch the time. So I was like how are you getting fish that we can't even harvest answer? California, How are you getting this fish that illegal for take here? Another time Eric says he suspected see the table was mixing his fish with cheaper
ports in marketing the entire batch under the so named, I felt like I was like the token local little boat fishermen for for their movement that, right soon after Erika ties with the company. Kind of really small scale. Independent fishermen were very angry seed table because it was bending the rules and getting so much publicity. These guys we're really doing it legitimately could barely earn a living from Mcdowell and fellow reporters found problems across see the tables national operations. Take the case of sushi grade to see the table was offering a fresh off the boat from Montauk out of long island the debt of winter, when no tuna boats were merely so Robin and Margie Mason, wanted to figure out where this fresh mantle tuna was really coming from. They started
Can you do want to see the table supply chain, picking it up at a big warehouse Fish market is one of the biggest fish markets in the world. It is just a bustle of activity. There's forklift, a kind of zigzagging around in trying to avoid everyone, it's very chaotic, most of it. The current in the middle of the night, ninety percent you should sold in America is imported and a lot of it comes through here. Everything that ends up at fault and fish market gets me together. This is where you ve, really least track of where your fish is coming from. The reporters did all night stake out at the market. They spot it boxes of fish from other parts of the world, including to getting loaded onto delivery trucks for sea to table wholesaler mantle. Like a sea have a cop Robin Margie tailed the trucks from the fish market in the Bronx Cross, long I'll,
I don't want to drive a Bonham for me personally in one of my favorite things is following trucks. I can't strive fine. I'm he's looking straight at ass, arriving a martyr they watch the box is being delivered to the wholesaler. It was an important clue, but they didn't know for sure these supplies of imported fish would go to see the tabling it passed off as low. We caught, so they turned to the emerging science of marine dna testing. The reporters had a chef order over five hundred dollars worth of yellow fin tuna at sea. The table was offering as fresh caught from Then they sent a fish out to a lab to have it analyzed. It turned out that that fish look like It came from the Indian Ocean or the West Central Pacific, in other words not from the United States. According to preliminary results, remember
see the table, guarantees a clean traceable. U S obliging, but Robin Margie found something else that companies feeding into sea to table supply networks or running fleet There were on migrants, fishermen, men sometimes working under brutal conditions for as little as a dollar. Fifty a day at a busy Ford in Jakarta Margie spoke to one of these men to interpret his name is released when he says He's been nearly a year working foreign trawler for company company sells fish to see the two was wholesaler mantle. He and other men file complaints against the company. He says he felt like us: to find the men who are working on those boats really brings at full circle for us, elevated it to a different level, see the table, charges a premium for seafood, that's wild caught sustainable domestic, and
the AP investigation found problems with each one of those claims at sea, He was offices in Brooklyn Robin sat down With older dimity Ire secret, his wild, I We do it with a mere culture operations for shellfish by mere culture he's talking about farm shellfish. Why don't you just say that when you on the stuff of mean everything I see and hear is lie on, while, while you're very clear about that- and we are very clear about carrying shellfish sign that reason- miracle this report or if they are not, then investors report file caught domestic while caught all over the place
so honest about with that. With on that subject,. Who I've never heard you say anything about farmed anything? I just felt like how how how can you say this is so easy to disprove. I have this document here. This is what you're, telling your investors and now you're telling me some. Directly opposite. Then, a few days later, I got an email from him saying they have decided to discontinue the use of our agriculture because it goes against their wild, only message or something to that effect. When it comes to allegations of forced labour shortage, need a table, insists on maintaining a clean supply chain to heighten everything we stand again. Something we stay vigilant about and if anything,
ever came to light of our suppliers doing anything against her agreement. They'll be immediately removed from our supply, known as for the other problems like that fresh maintop tuna that wasn't really from other Sean told Robin. They were the result of mistakes, poor communication or possibly the fault of one of the company suppliers. I think, if you are going to have a company that is built on sustainability and american caught fish. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to make sure you supply chain is clean. You should definitely no what Fischer in season what things my the illegal to catch. So I mean, ultimately, I think the responsibility lies with him still to fix all the problems in the industry.
Robinson, sustainable seafood could be the best answer. We have it just that nobody has fully crack the code yet doing it, but a large scale with a transparent supplies, but if it's gonna happen anywhere Robinson is here the? U S is good a place as it one of the reasons that Americans see food is so attractive and it would be. The answer is because it is so highly regulated. Our oceans are managed to a higher degree than any other in the world. This should be the one place that you can get a fish and oh and feel good about it. That was robbed Macao, he reported that story with Margie Mason and Martha Mendoza analysed happens is the eighty first published said: investigation in a statement see to table called some of the allegations, misleading or unsubstantiated, they also said they terminated their green with their fish wholesaler in mountain. Meanwhile, for fun,
see to table. Employees have come forward claiming raise concerns about Miss, labelled fish and deceptive marketing practices, but say the company in either ignored were silenced. Thanks for listing local Montgomery produces week, show it was edited by bread, Myers suitable. Ask Israel Putting was supported by the tone is to be a centre for investigative journalism, column The university and by our lives are centre on crisis reporting special thanks Coronel Steve call in song dough. A production Andrews, windy and ozone original scope for this week's episode and sound design is by the dynamic dual J Breezy, Mr Jim Break, Simons, Fernando my man, ethics and excellence in journalism. Translation reveal is a co production of the centre for investigative.
Evening, support reveals provided by the Raven David Logan Foundation. The John Dene CAP N T Macarthur Foundation, the janitor Logan Family Foundation. Before foundation, the hiding Simons Foundation and the ethics and excellence in journalism foundation reveal physical production of the centre for investment reporting in p r ex outlets in and remember, there is always more to the story.
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Transcript generated on 2019-12-20.