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AP reveals grueling working conditions in Indian shrimp industry

Workers peel shrimp in a tin-roofed processing shed in the hamlet of the Tallarevu, in Kakinada district, in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, Feb. 11, 2024. AP PHOTO / MAHESH KUMAR A.

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A team of AP journalists in India and the United States provided an unprecedented cross-format look at the Indian shrimp industry, capturing labor and environmental abuses by the world’s top exporter of shrimp to America. California-based investigative reporter Martha Mendoza, part of the award-winning AP Seafood from Slaves team, was contacted by the Corporate Accountability Lab with the offer of exclusive advance access to the human rights legal group’s three-year investigation into India’s shrimp industry. Rather than simply do a write-up of the report that found “dangerous and abusive” labor conditions, Mendoza set out to do her own reporting. She teamed up with Hyderabad-based photographer Mahesh Kumar and New Delhi-based videographer Piyush Nagpal, who traveled to the state of Anhra Pradesh in southeast India for a week to document working conditions. 

The many AP staffers contributing to the story in the U.S. included photographer Steven Senne and video journalists Haven Daley, Rodrique Ngowi, Terry Chea and Joseph B. Frederick. Christine Nguyen produced the compelling eight-minute consumer-ready video with contributions from India and across the U.S.

The story, with a stunning presentation put together by Dario Lopez-Mills, was among the top 10 performers on APNews and the app on the day it ran. Before publication, Sysco, the largest food distributor in the U.S., said that the company suspended receiving any products from one of the companies AP reported on after fielding questions from the AP. Mendoza spoke about the story on NPR’s “Morning Edition.”

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