Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Prawn madness

Occasionally certain news stories catch my attention and bug me. Like this story about how prawns caught of the coast of Scotland are going to be shipped 12,000 miles to Thailand to be shelled, before being shipped back and sold in Scottish supermarkets. Why? Because it's cheaper to pay somebody in Thailand to shell prawns by hand than someone in Scotland to shove them through a machine.

In fact Time magazine makes the comparison that it costs $12 an hour to pay a Scottish worker (which with today's exchange rate works out at about £6), while a Thai hand-sheller only gets paid 50c a day. And the environmental impact is mad too - as Friends of the Earth put it: for the sake of a few extra quid, the prawn sellers are destroying the world.

I don't know what's the saddest aspect of this whole tale. That workers in Thailand are on 50c a day. That half a tonne of carbon will be pumped into the atmosphere for every tonne of prawns shipped round the world and back again. Or that someone somewhere has the job title 'Director of Scampi' on their business card.

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