U.S. Customs and Border Protection banned a Chinese fishing company from selling seafood products in the United States on May 28 over concerns that the firm was treating migrant workers like slaves.
The agency said it will immediately start seizing tuna, swordfish, and other seafood products from Dalian Ocean Fishing Co., Ltd., at all U.S. ports of entry, citing U.S. federal law, which prohibits shipments linked to slave or child labour. The ban also extends to products that contain seafood, such as canned tuna and pet food, according to a CBP official.
While the CBP has targeted individual vessels in the past, this marked the first time it has taken the action against an entire fleet of fishing vessels—numbering 32 in total—the agency said in a news briefing.
“Companies that exploit their workers have no place doing business in the United States,” said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in a statement. “Products made from forced labour not only exploit workers but hurt American businesses and expose consumers to unethical purchases.”
The measure, or “withhold release order,” is designed to “protect vulnerable workers while levelling the playing field for U.S. fisherman and seafood producers,” said Troy Miller, acting commissioner at the CBP. He likened the labour practices of the Chinese fishing company to “modern slavery.”
Workers on the Dalian Ocean Fishing fleets, many of whom are Indonesian, suffer from “physical violence, withholding of wages, and abusive working and living conditions,” the CBP found in an investigation. It noted that their conditions met all 11 indicators of forced labour by international standards.
Four Indonesian fishermen died last year while working on Dalian Ocean Fishing’s vessels. Three of their bodies were unceremoniously dumped into the sea, according to The Jakarta Post, a daily Indonesian newspaper. The deaths prompted a joint probe between Jakarta and Beijing. Complaints from crew members regarding meagre food, dehydration, and beatings ignited outcries in Indonesia.
The Dalian company exported $233,000 worth of seafood in the past fiscal year.
The article can be found at theepochtimes.com