World

Thailand's multibillion-dollar seafood industry plagued by pirates and slaves on high seas

  • In this Friday, Dec. 12, 2014 photo, Min Min, from Myanmar, tears at his thick black hair in agitation, as he tries to remember details about his family. Min Min was rescued from a tiny island in December, on the verge of starvation, and brought back to Thailand, the world's third-largest seafood exporter. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

    In this Friday, Dec. 12, 2014 photo, Min Min, from Myanmar, tears at his thick black hair in agitation, as he tries to remember details about his family. Min Min was rescued from a tiny island in December, on the verge of starvation, and brought back to Thailand, the world's third-largest seafood exporter. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Friday, Dec. 12, 2014 photo, Min Min, from Myanmar, consumes a vitamin drink. Min is just one of countless hidden casualties of the international demand for cheap fish. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

    In this Friday, Dec. 12, 2014 photo, Min Min, from Myanmar, consumes a vitamin drink. Min is just one of countless hidden casualties of the international demand for cheap fish. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Friday, Dec. 12, 2014 photo, Min Min, from Myanmar, rests on a make shift bed. Min Min, a former sea laborer, was rescued from an Indonesian island in December. A report released Wednesday  Feb. 25, 2015, by the British nonprofit Environmental Justice Foundation said that overfishing and the use of illegal and undocumented trawlers have ravaged Thailand’s marine ecosystems and depleted fish stocks.  (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

    In this Friday, Dec. 12, 2014 photo, Min Min, from Myanmar, rests on a make shift bed. Min Min, a former sea laborer, was rescued from an Indonesian island in December. A report released Wednesday Feb. 25, 2015, by the British nonprofit Environmental Justice Foundation said that overfishing and the use of illegal and undocumented trawlers have ravaged Thailand’s marine ecosystems and depleted fish stocks. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)  (The Associated Press)

A British environmental group says overfishing and the use of illegal and undocumented trawlers has ravaged Thailand's marine ecosystems and even encouraged the use of slave labor in the industry.

A report released Wednesday by the British nonprofit Environmental Justice Foundation says Thai fishing boats are now catching about 85 percent less than what they brought in 50 years ago, making it one of the most overfished regions on the planet.

Depleted fisheries in the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea have, in turn, pushed Thai fishing boats farther and farther from home. Fewer Thais are willing to take on the dangerous, low-level work, so fishing operations use brokers and agents to enlist migrant workers from impoverished neighboring countries such as Myanmar and Cambodia, often through trickery and kidnapping.