SSA Asks Federal Government to Shut Down Seafood Supply Chains Exploiting Uyghur Labor

Over the last year, China exported at least 12 million pounds of Argentinian shrimp to the United States. Argentinian fishermen caught this shrimp in the Atlantic Ocean, which was then shipped across the Pacific to Chinese processing plants. After processing, it was shipped back across the Pacific, ending up in American grocery stores. Despite being processed in China, this product is allowed to be sold in the U.S. as a product of Argentina.

Information from bills of lading shows that some of this shrimp was cycled through China’s Shandong province, an area tied to forced labor abuses. The Outlaw Ocean Project recently documented that members of the Uyghur minority were forcibly moved out of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) to Shandong and coerced to work in seafood processing facilities, including shrimp. 

Americans purchasing Argentinian shrimp unknowingly contribute to Uyghur oppression, as they have no way of knowing whether it was packed in plants in Shandong under current labeling laws. To combat the exploitation of forced labor, the Southern Shrimp Alliance today petitioned the Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force (FLETF) to add eight Chinese seafood processing plants in Shandong to the Entity List maintained under the Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act (UFLPA). 

The eight companies identified in the Alliance’s petition are tied to clear evidence of employing Uyghur labor through programs that transferred these workers from the XUAR. Including these companies on the UFLPA’s Entity List would presumptively treat seafood exported by these entities as goods produced through forced labor, prohibiting importation into the United States. Importers could overcome the presumption by demonstrating that their Chinese supplier no longer utilizes Uyghur labor.

In addition, the Southern Shrimp Alliance also petitioned the FLETF to recognize formally seafood as a priority sector for UFLPA enforcement. This designation would help to ensure that the UFLPA safeguards extend to other seafood processing plants in China that are exploiting Uyghur labor, whether in Shandong province or elsewhere.  

“Our shrimp industry is facing a huge number of challenges right now, and commercial fishing families across the southern coast are suffering,” said John Williams, the Executive Director of the Southern Shrimp Alliance. “While our boats are tied up, seafood importers are scouring the globe to find the most vulnerable populations to make a buck off of. This is morally wrong, and it is against the law. We ask for nothing more than the enforcement of our laws.”

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:

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