Federal Government Recognizes Seafood as a High-Priority Sector for Enforcement Under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act

Today, the Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force (FLETF) updated its strategy to prevent the importation of goods produced through forced labor in the People’s Republic of China by designating seafood as a high-priority sector for enforcement under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA).

Last month, the FLETF’s added Shandong Meijia Group Co., Ltd. (also known as Rizhao Meijia Group), a collection of Chinese seafood processing plants operating in Shandong province, to the UFLPA’s Entity List. The action means the federal government presumes that seafood exported by any company within the Shandong Meijia Group is produced through forced labor and, therefore, prohibited from entering the United States. 

In January, the Southern Shrimp Alliance petitioned the FLETF to add eight Chinese seafood processing conglomerates, including the Shandong Meijia Group, to the UFLPA’s Entity List and to identify seafood as a high-priority sector for enforcement the UFLPA. The Southern Shrimp Alliance argued that the federal government must take meaningful action to address the exploitation of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China’s seafood processing industry. Identifying seafood as a high-priority sector is an essential foundational step to addressing the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) efforts to support the country’s seafood processing industry through forced labor.  

An investigation by The Outlaw Ocean Project extensively documented the forced relocation of members of the Uyghur minority from the landlocked Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) to the coastal province of Shandong, where Uyghurs have been coerced to work in seafood processing plants. The involuntary workers packed a wide variety of seafood products, including shrimp, for export.

China’s shrimp processing sector significantly impacts the U.S. shrimp market. A review of bill of ladings data indicates that at least 12 million pounds of Argentine red shrimp processed in China were exported to the United States in 2023. This wild-caught shrimp was sold as sushi in restaurants and in retail grocery stores across the United States without any indication that it may have been packed in Chinese seafood processing plants using Uyghur labor. 

“Once again, the U.S. shrimp industry is grateful for the Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force taking decisive action to combat the exploitation of the Uyghur people in Chinese seafood processing plants,” said John Williams, the executive director of the Southern Shrimp Alliance. “Seafood purchased by American consumers cannot become a vehicle for the CCP’s abuse of its own people. With today’s announcement, U.S. importers are made aware that processing seafood in China, while cheap, may come at a tremendous cost.”

Review the FLETF’s July 2024 update to the Strategy to Prevent the Importation of Goods Mined, Produced, or Manufactured with Forced Labor in the People’s Republic of China

Read the Southern Shrimp Alliance’s January 29, 2024 letter to the Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force here:

Learn more about the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act here:

Read The Outlaw Ocean Project’s “Crimes Along the Coast: The Uyghurs Forced to Process the World’s Fish” (Oct. 9, 2023) here:

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