Shocking revelations about the international fishing industry’s reliance on slave labor have caused many people to question the origin of the shrimp or tuna they eat. The disclosures have also led the United States to take some important new steps to clamp down on the use of indentured workers and discourage other unlawful activities on the high seas.
President Obama is expected to sign legislation that effectively bans American imports of fish caught by forced labor in Southeast Asia. The bill, passed by Congress this month, would close a loophole in the Tariff Act of 1930 that prohibits imports made by convicts or forced labor but exempts such goods if American domestic production could not meet demand. Now that is expected to end. The president recently signed an agreement allowing officials to deny port services to foreign vessels suspected of illegal fishing.
In another useful move, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration this month said it would improve how seafood is tracked from catch to market by imposing new reporting requirements on American importers, who purchase from overseas sources 90 percent of the seafood that humans and pets consume in the United States. These new requirements would affect 16 species, including cod, snapper and some tuna, and are intended to protect species that are overfished or at risk of being overfished by cracking down on illegally caught or mislabeled fish.
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