Shark populations off the Pacific coast of Central America are in steep decline, but fishing continues and shark exports are on the rise. One of the largest commercial shark-fishing operations in the Americas is the Costa Rica-based Wang Group. Environmentalists say the company has contributed to massive overfishing that is pushing species such as the hammerhead to the brink of extinction.
But the Wang Group has hidden the scale of its operations behind a network of shell companies that masqueraded as mom-and-pop businesses. And an investigation uncovered problems that go beyond the destruction of marine life. The Wang fleet is crewed by Asian migrants who told us that they were kept at sea without touching land for as long as 18 months, had their passports confiscated and faced onerous fines if they tried to quit. This is all powerful evidence of human trafficking.
Photos by Ben Feibleman.
On this episode, we track an elusive fleet of shark-fishing boats that are implicated in overfishing and possible human trafficking.