U.S. Customs and Border Protection has imposed a new import ban on seafood from a fleet of Chinese fishing vessels, after a year-long investigation uncovered what U.S. officials called signs of forced labor within the fleet’s operations.
In a statement on Friday, CBP said it had issued what’s known as a withhold release order against Dalian Ocean Fishing Co., Ltd., a fishing company based in Dalian, a port city near China’s border with North Korea. The agency said it identified at least 11 indicators of forced labor across the company’s fleet, “including physical violence, withholding of wages, and abusive working and living conditions.” The allegations include abuses against many Indonesian workers.
With the ban in effect, border agents will start detaining tuna, swordfish and other seafood harvested by vessels owned or operated by the Chinese company. According to CBP officials, this is the first U.S. ban on imports from an entire fishing fleet, as opposed to individual vessels targeted in the past.
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