asia

Slavery at sea: US blocks Chinese fish imports


Dalian Ocean Fishing is accused of employing forced labour on board of its 33 longline tuna vessels. Indonesian workers are forced to work 18 hours a day for US$ 300 a month. The fishing industry in Japan, Russia, Spain, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand is high on the Global Slavery Index. The US has banned Xinjiang cotton.

 

Beijing (AsiaNews) – The US Customs Agency yesterday announced that it would block products by Dalian Ocean Fishing after the Chinese fishing company was accused of employing forced labour and abusing workers on board its 33 tuna vessels.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that companies using forced labour will not have access to the US market.

According to US customs authorities, Dalian Ocean Shipping exploits its employees, who are forced to work under difficult conditions, and are at risk of having their salary withheld.

Agence France-Presse reports that Indonesians employed by the Chinese company have complained of being forced to work 18 hours a day for 0 a month, which are often not even paid; workers are required to remain with the company for more than a year, with poor medical care and subjected to inhumane treatment.

Last year, Advocates for Public Law, a South Korea-based NGO, and the Environmental Justice Foundation reported that the bodies of three workers who died on board of the Long Xing 629, a Dalian Ocean ship, were dumped into the sea.

Chinese fishing companies are not the only ones accused of using forced labour. According to the Global Slavery Index, the fishing industry in six other countries – Japan, Russia, Spain, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand – are at a high risk of “modern slavery”.

This is not the first time the US government has banned fish imports from China on humanitarian grounds; until recently though, it had never targeted a company’s entire fleet.

On the issue of forced labour, last year Washington also took steps to stop importing goods from Xinjiang after several media reported the existence of labour camps in China’s autonomous region, with hundreds of thousands of Muslims forced to work, especially picking cotton.

China produces 20 per cent of the world’s cotton, most of it in Xinjiang.





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