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Seafood company reportedly lied about ‘local’ fish, treated workers like slaves.

A Brooklyn company that promised to sell sustainably caught, local seafood is mislabeling its fish and subjecting workers to slave-like conditions while raking in boatloads of cash, according to an investigation. Sea to Table claims its “seafood comes from traditional American fishing communities, where fishermen wake up every morning and hit the open ocean to...
Time: 18:47     Date: 13.06.2018
Metro News: Seafood company reportedly lied about ‘local’ fish, treated workers like slaves. NY Post 24 - US News

Sea to Table claims its “seafood comes from traditional American fishing communities, where fishermen wake up every morning and hit the open ocean to do what they love.”

But an investigation by the Associated Press revealed several instances of the company mislabeling products — such as “Montauk” tuna that DNA tests showed came from the Indian Ocean or the Western Central Pacific.

Sea to Table also advertised fresh-caught blue crab from Maryland two months after the season closed in November, raising questions about the shellfish’s provenance.

The AP worked with a chef to place a seafood order from Sea to Table last winter, then monitored Montauk harbor using time-lapse photography.

Reporters observed no tuna boats trawling.

The tuna order came in, and a receipt identified the source as a fishing boat out of Montauk — but that vessel had not been there in two years.

The Clinton Hill-based darling of the local-food movement — which has been hailed by food writers as “revolutionary” and a “guilt-free” seafood option — counts celebrity chefs, trendy Brooklyn bistros, salad chain Chopt, and restaurants in the Empire State Building among its clients.

Reporters who traced their supply chain discovered fishermen in other countries that were paid as little as $1.50 a day for grueling 22-hour shifts in horrendous working conditions.

“We were treated like slaves,” said Indonesian fisherman Sulistyo, who as employed by a trawler that provided fish to Sea to Table’s suppliers.

“They treat us like robots without any conscience,” he said, asking his name be withheld fearing retribution.

More than a dozen current and former Indonesian fishermen gave similar accounts of mistreatment.

Meanwhile, Sea to Table raked in $13 million last year and expects to increase its haul to $70 million annually by 2020, according to a confidential investor report.

Mis-labeling fish — either knowingly or through carelessness — can result in federal fraud charges that carry potential fines and jail time.

At its Brooklyn office, Sea to Table refused to comment to The Post.

Company founder Sean Dimin told the AP that the alleged slave-labor practices “abhorrent and everything we stand against.”

Asked about the company’s sale of abalone, Dimin admitted selling farmed shellfish “is a very small part of our business” that they are open about.

“There’s nothing to hide there,” he said.

Additional reporting by Cedar Attanasio

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