Two US lawmakers are asking the US Customs and Border Protection to provide documentation showing how the agency is working "to prevent the import of seafood linked to forced labor."
The request follows claims made in an investigation by the non-profit Outlaw Ocean Project and published in The New Yorker magazine earlier this month that show some seafood imports from China into the United States are produced using forced labor.
These products, according to the investigation, are making their way to consumers through major retailers in North America and Europe, including Walmart, Kroger and others.
The investigation is shining an unfavorable light on the global seafood supply chain and is attracting a growing number of government officials looking into the allegations. The US Congressional-Executive Committee on China (CECC) has scheduled a hearing for Oct. 24 to explore claims made.
On Friday, Democratic House Rep. Raul Grijalv of Arizona and California Democratic House Rep. Jared Huffman sent a letter to US Customs asking the agency to describe "any strategies, investigations, and enforcement actions" it has taken to prevent US companies from using forced labor in China.
The investigation alleges 10 factories in China have employed Uyghur workers as forced labor to process seafood imported into Europe and the United States.
It emphasized all of those seafood processing plants have been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), whose certification standard cover the use of forced labor. The MSC introduced its first labor policy in 2014, specifying that any entity convicted of forced or child labor violations is ineligible for MSC certification for at least two years.
Four of the 10 processors have also been certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), according to the investigation's findings.
EU also looking at legislation
Barry Andrews, an Irish lawmaker, said that legislation moving through the European Parliament is necessary to stop illegal fishing and human rights abuses in the seafood industry, as highlighted in the investigation. This legislation was approved on Oct. 17, according to an Ocean Outlaw page documenting global the impacts of its reporting.
Samira Rafaela, a Netherlands lawmaker, cited the investigation to support a draft regulation on forced labor that was also approved on Oct. 16.
- 'Highly irresponsible': Chinese processing sector says Outlaw Ocean forced labor story is 'fabricated'
- Several suppliers mentioned in Outlaw Ocean investigation have audited their supply chains and found no wrongdoing
- These 4 strategies could help clean up the global seafood supply chain and rid it of human rights abuses