Effective December 31, 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel at all U.S. ports of entry will detain tuna and other seafood harvested by the Lien Yi Hsing No. 12, a Taiwanese flagged and owned distant water fishing vessel.
CBP issued a Withhold Release Order (WRO) against Lien Yi Hsing No. 12 based on information that reasonably indicates the use of forced labor. The agency identified the following forced labor indicators through the course of its investigation: deception, withholding of wages, and debt bondage.
Federal statute 19 U.S.C. 1307 prohibits the importation of merchandise mined, manufactured, or produced, wholly or in part, by convict labor, forced labor, and/or indentured labor, including forced or indentured child labor. This WRO will require the detention at all U.S. ports of entry of tuna and any seafood harvested by the Lien Yi Hsing No. 12. CBP provides importers of detained shipments an opportunity to export their shipments or demonstrate that the merchandise was not produced with forced labor.
Tuna is widely consumed both in restaurants and in canned or processed products that Americans encounter every day in grocery and convenience stores. According to the National Fisheries Institute, the average American consumed 2.1 pounds of canned tuna in 2018.
“Americans need to know that tuna and other seafood products can be at high risk of being harvested by forced labor, which is a form of modern day slavery,” said CBP Acting Commissioner Mark A. Morgan. “CBP is working hard every day to keep illicit goods off store shelves, but we need American shoppers to do their part. You can help end forced labor by learning where your favorite products come from and by buying only from reputable retailers.”
CBP urges consumers to check the websites of their favorite retailers to verify that they have fair trade policies and corporate social responsibility programs. Consumers can learn more about regions and industries that are at high risk of forced labor by reviewing the:
- Withhold Release Orders and Findings listed on CBP.gov;
- Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced with Child and Forced Labor; and
- Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report.
In August 2020, CBP issued a separate WRO against the Da Wang, another Taiwanese owned distant water fishing vessel. That WRO was one of 13 that CBP issued during Fiscal Year 2020. All WROs are publicly available and listed by country on CBP’s Forced Labor Withhold Release Orders and Findings page.
CBP receives allegations of forced labor from a variety of sources, including from the general public. Any person or organization that has reason to believe merchandise produced with the use of forced labor is being, or likely to be, imported into the U.S. can report detailed allegations by contacting CBP through the e-Allegations Online Trade Violation Reporting System or by calling 1-800-BE-ALERT.