The European Union is warning Thailand it should "promptly" address the human rights and slavery issues that have dogged their seafood industry if it wants to stave off an EU seafood import ban.

The warning came after several investigative reports by The Associated Press that focused on slavery in the seafood industry and resulted in the rescue of 2,000 men.

EU Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella said Friday that even though the 28-nation bloc was primarily assessing Thailand's improvements in stamping out illegal fishing, there was no sidestepping the slavery issue.

Last April, Thailand, the world's third-largest seafood exporter, was given a warning to improve its fisheries practices or face an export ban. Annual Thai exports to the EU are estimated to be worth between 575 million and 730 million euros.