Allegations of human trafficking into the fishing industry make us queasy because of our hypocrisy over cheap labour

Human trafficking is an evil we like to think happens somewhere else; in impoverished countries, or if nearer to home only as part of activity that is generally illegal – the sex trade perhaps, but not the mainstream economy. It is a jolt to be confronted with evidence suggesting that human trafficking for labour exploitation – a form of modern slavery – may be happening under our noses and in relation to goods that we ourselves consume.

The Guardian has uncovered suspected cases of undocumented African and Asian migrant workers being trafficked into the Irish prawn and white fish fleet as part of a wider investigation into the exploitation of undocumented migrants in fishing. We know that similar allegations are being investigated by police as part of a formal inquiry into trafficking in the Scottish fishing fleet.

Related: Revealed: trafficked migrant workers abused in Irish fishing industry

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