US bans imports of Chinese fishing fleet for labor practices | Human Rights News


Officials say this is the first U.S. ban on importing an entire fishing fleet, unlike individual vessels.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Friday imposed a new ban on importing seafood from a Chinese fishing fleet that the agency says it uses forced labor to its 32 ships, including abuses against many Indonesian workers.

CBP said it will immediately stop tuna, swordfish and other Dalian Ocean Fishing Co. Ltd. products at U.S. ports of entry. The “restraining order” that bans imports also applies to other end-use products that contain the company’s seafood, such as canned tuna and pet food, a CBP official said.

National Security Department Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said this action is the first time CBP has banned imports of an entire fishing fleet, rather than specific vessels from the past.

“DHS will continue to aggressively investigate the use of forced labor by distant water fishing vessels and a wide range of other industries,” Mayorkas said in a news release. “U.S. producers and importers should understand that there will be consequences for entities trying to exploit workers to sell goods in the United States.”

CBP officials said the agency’s investigation revealed that many Indonesian workers hired by Dalian Ocean fishing vessels found conditions very different from those expected and were subjected to physical violence, wage retention, debt bondage and conditions. abusive work and life.

In a statement, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the U.S. will promote accountability for those who use forced labor “to exploit people for profit” and to ensure that those “without voice be heard and protected “.

“Today’s action helps prevent human rights abusers from benefiting from forced labor,” the statement said. “It’s also another example of the United States taking action to tackle harmful fishing practices.”

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

U.S. imports of Dalian Ocean Fishing are small, at just $ 233,000 in fiscal year 2020, CBP said.

But the issue of forced labor is a growing turning point in strained relations between the United States and China, following numerous recent import bans related to the detention of Uyghur Muslims from China at the western end of the world. Xinjiang region. The move comes less than two days after Tai held a first conversation with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.

The Trump administration, during its last week in office in January, announced a radical ban on imports of all cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang over allegations of Uyghur forced labor, a far-reaching measure. which would require the textile and clothing industry. rearrange their supply chains.

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