New York – A petition targeting Taiwanese seafood trading company FCF, has been lodged with the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) over strong concerns of forced labor and other human rights abuses in its supply chain. It alleges that the distant-water-fishing (DWF) fleets that provide for FCF have many years of documented allegations of human rights abuses, and therefore warrants CBP intervention to investigate and potentially block related seafood imports from entering the US market.
FCF, which last year acquired major US tuna brand Bumble Bee Seafoods, has previously been accused of poor supply chain management with forced labor, human trafficking, IUU (illegal, unreported, and unregulated) fishing, and illegal shark finning via its vessels, as well as potential links to the deaths of a fishery observer and an Indonesian migrant fisher.
“For years, Greenpeace and other organizations have documented reports of destructive fishing practices and human rights abuses in FCF’s supply chains. We’re confident that there is enough reasonable suspicion that seafood traded by FCF and imported by Bumble Bee and other US companies is produced by forced labor,” says J. Park, US Senior Fisheries Campaigner for Greenpeace USA. “That’s why we’re calling on the CBP to do the right thing and pressure FCF to change its inadequate policies and remediate forced labor in its supply chain. Otherwise, the CBP should enforce action and block FCF imports from entering American ports, supermarkets, and homes because no company should be profiting from seafood caught with forced labor.”
The petition, which has been filed by Greenpeace offices in the USA, Southeast Asia (Indonesia), and East Asia (Taipei) is backed by six other human rights and migrant fisher organizations; with reasoning and content informed by various reports by Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Greenpeace East Asia, other human rights NGOs and trade unions, as well as international standards and guidance established by the UN International Labour Organization (ILO).
Among its demands, the petitioners call for FCF to revise its human rights policy in accordance with international standards, commit to improving its social audit program in line with Greenpeace recommendations, publicly disclose its suppliers, improve and implement fair working conditions for its workers, and all within a 90-day period. If failing to do so after the timeframe, the CBP should block all FCF imports from entering the US.
“Migrant fishers are enslaved in a system in which the payment they receive is not commensurate with the work and treatment they endure, and as a result they continue to be deprived of their rights. FCF, which owns a large amount of resources in the fishery industry, benefits enormously from exploiting this,” says Allison Lee, Secretary General of Yilan Migrant Fishermen Union. “We support this petition because our concern is for the livelihoods and well-being of the fishers who work on board these vessels. FCF must not forget the people that make up the backbone of their company, and it is their responsibility to protect the rights of migrant fishers.”
The CBP has previously blocked imports from vessels linked to human rights and environmental violations, based in part on Greenpeace investigations. If successful, this petition will compel FCF to secure the changes needed to continue selling its products to U.S. corporations and consumers.
Notes to Editor:
- A copy of the petition is available on request.
- Organizations that have signed onto the petition include:
- Asosiasi Pekerja Perikanan Indonesia (AP2I – Indonesian Fisheries Workers Association)
- Greenpeace East Asia (Taipei office)
- Greenpeace Southeast Asia (Indonesia)
- Greenpeace USA
- Keelung Migrant Fishermen Union
- Serikat Buruh Migran Indonesia (SBMI – Indonesian Migrant Workers Union)
- Serikat Pelaut Sulawesi Utara (SPSU – North Sulawesi Seafarers Union, Indonesia)
- Taiwan Association for Human Rights
- Yilan Migrant Fishermen Union
- See also: “Forced Labour at Sea: The Case of Indonesian Migrant Fishers” (2021), and “Misery at Sea – Human suffering in Taiwan’s distant water fishing fleet” (2018)
J. Park –US Senior Fisheries Campaigner, Greenpeace USA, firstname.lastname@example.org, +1 (650) 307-6617
Allison Lee –Secretary General, Yilan Migrant Fishermen Union, email@example.com, (+886) 955 565 694
Shuk-Wah Chung – Communications Lead, global fisheries campaign with Greenpeace International, (+61) 405 698 690, firstname.lastname@example.org
Greenpeace International Press Desk, +31 (0)20 718 2470 (available 24 hours), email@example.com