With brands like Fancy Feast, Friskies, Sheba, and Whiskas, Nestlé and Mars are two of the biggest producers of cat food. Both companies have faced criticism for importing seafood from Thailand, where the fishing industry has been accused of human trafficking and other rights abuses. Now the two packaged food giants say they are halting the use of a practice linked to these alleged human rights violations.
That practice is known as transshipment, and it involves the transfer of fished seafood from one at-sea ship to another. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that idea, but unethical suppliers can use transshipment to take advantage of their workers, and to overfish with impunity.
Transferring fish to another vessel allows shippers to stay far away from any ports or government authorities for extended periods, and to conceal that fish was caught in an area that had already been overfished.
In the last few years, consumers have learned more about the use of captive labor in the fishing industry, and come to realize that protecting humans and fish should be a priority when harvesting seafood for human or pet consumption.
“Mars recognizes the risks of transshipment at sea,” Isabelle Aelvoet, the Global Sustainability Director for Mars Petcare said in a statement provided to Greenpeace. “We want to see human rights respected and the environment protected in our seafood supply chains.”
Horrified pet owners filed a class action suit back in 2015 over the idea that they might be feeding their pets food caught by workers held against their will on ships for years on end. Illegal or unregulated fishing and human trafficking are linked, and companies that source seafood in Thailand have been forced to investigate their supply chains to satisfy horrified customers.
Last year, Greenpeace released a video about the issue starring internet-famous cats, and this announcement comes with a sequel, because everyone likes cat videos.