US bans imports from Chinese fishing fleet due to labor practices human rights news


Officials say this is the first US ban on imports of an entire fishing fleet, as opposed to individual vessels.

U.S. Customs and border protection on Friday imposed a new ban on imports of seafood from a Chinese fishing fleet which the agency said uses forced labor on its 32 vessels, including abuses against de many Indonesian workers.

CBP has said it will immediately stop tuna, swordfish and other products from Dalian Ocean Fishing Co Ltd at US ports of entry. The “denial-of-release order” prohibiting imports also applies to the company’s other end-consumer products containing seafood, such as canned tuna and pet food, one said. responsible for CBP.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the action marked the first time CBP had banned imports from an entire fishing fleet, as opposed to individual vessels targeted in the past.

“DHS will continue to aggressively investigate the use of forced labor by fishing vessels in distant waters and a wide range of other industries,” Mayorkas said at a press briefing. “US producers and importers need to understand that there will be consequences for entities that attempt to exploit workers to sell goods in the United States.”

CBP officials said the agency’s investigation found that many Indonesian workers hired by Dalian Ocean’s fishing vessels found conditions very different from what they expected and were subjected to harsh treatment. physical violence, wage deductions, debt bondage and abusive working and living conditions.

In a statement, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States would encourage the accountability of those who use forced labor “to exploit individuals for profit” and to ensure that ” voiceless are heard and protected ”.

“Today’s action helps prevent perpetrators of human rights violations from profiting from forced labor,” the statement said. “This is also another example of the United States taking action to tackle harmful fishing practices.”

Earlier this week, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai called attention to the issue of forced labor on fishing vessels, submitting a new proposal to the World Trade Organization to reduce subsidies for illegal fishing and demanding that member countries recognize the problem.

U.S. imports from Dalian Ocean Fishing are low, standing at just $ 233,000 for fiscal 2020, CBP said.

But the issue of forced labor is a growing flashpoint in strained relations between the United States and China, following numerous recent import bans linked to China’s detention of Uyghur Muslims in the region. far west of Xinjiang. The move comes less than two days after Tai had a first conversation with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.

The Trump administration, during its last week in office in January, announced a sweeping ban on imports of all cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang over allegations that they were produced with forced labor. Uyghur – a far-reaching measure that would require the garment and textile industries to reorganize their supply chains.


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