The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has imposed an import ban on seafood from the Chinese Dalian Fishing Company because of their use of forced labor, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on Friday.
"Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a Withhold Release Order against Dalian Ocean Fishing Co., Ltd. based on information that reasonably indicates the use of forced labor in the entity's fishing operations," CBP said in a press statement.Mayorkas said that companies that exploit their workers have no place doing business in the United States.
"Products made from forced labor not only exploit workers, but hurt American businesses and expose consumers to unethical purchases. This Withhold Release Order will ensure we continue to protect the human rights of those working in the distant water fishing industry, while also upholding safeguarding our national and economic security," he added.
The CBP identified all 11 of the International Labour Organization's indicators of forced labor during its investigation including physical violence, withholding of wages, and abusive working and living conditions, according to an official release by the CBP.
Effective immediately, the new Withhold Release Order instructs CBP personnel at all U.S. ports of entry to begin detaining tuna, swordfish, and other seafood harvested by vessels owned or operated by the Dalian Ocean Fishing Co., Ltd. This is the first Withhold Release Order CBP has issued against an entire fleet of fishing vessels.
The International Labour Organization estimates that 25 million workers suffer under conditions of forced labor worldwide. Some foreign companies exploit forced labor in order to sell goods below market value, hurting law-abiding businesses, threatening American jobs, and leading consumers to making unethical purchases, the release said.