• By The Financial District

U.S. BANS IMPORTS FROM CHINESE FISHING FLEET ABUSING ITS WORKERS

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Friday imposed an import ban on seafood from a Chinese fishing fleet that it says is using forced labor on its 32 vessels and abusing many Indonesian workers, David Lawder reported for Reuters.

The CBP said it will immediately detain tuna, swordfish and other products from the Dalian Ocean Fishing Co Ltd at US ports of entry.


The "withhold release order" banning the imports also applies to other end-use products containing seafood from the company, such as canned tuna and pet food, a CBP official said. US imports from Dalian Ocean Fishing are small, totaling $2.9 million between Jan. 1, 2019, and April 30, 2021, according to CBP data.


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


"DHS will continue to aggressively investigate the use of forced labor by distant water fishing vessels, and by a wide range of other industries," Mayorkas told a news briefing.


"Producers and US importers alike should understand that there will be consequences for entities that attempt to exploit workers to sell goods in the US."


CBP officials said the agency's investigation revealed that many Indonesian workers hired onto Dalian Ocean Fishing vessels found conditions far different than what they expected and were subjected to physical violence, withholding of pay, debt bondage and abusive working and living conditions.


Earlier this week, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai called attention to the issue of forced labor on fishing vessels, submitting a new proposal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to curb subsidies to illegal fishing and requiring that member countries recognize the problem.



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