US customs blocks Vanuatu vessel allegedly carrying tuna caught using forced labour

A report by Seafood Source (linked below) claims that a fishing vessel, Tunago No. 61, was blocked by US customs because it was carrying tuna caught using forced labour. The vessel is understood to be owned by Tunago Fishery Co., Ltd., based in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Tunago Fishery to respond to the forced labour allegation. The company did not provide a response. 

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Company non-response
11 March 2019

Tunago Fishery did not respond

We invited Tunago Fishery to respond to allegations raised in a media report published by Seafood Source claiming that one of the company's vessels, Tunago No. 61, was blocked by US customs because it was carrying tuna caught using forced labour. 

Tunago Fishery did not respond. 

Article
10 March 2019

US Customs claims Vanuatu tuna vessel used forced labor

Author: Steve Bittenbender, Seafood Source

7 February 2019

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced...it had issued an order against a vessel from Vanuatu claiming the tuna it was carrying was caught using forced labor.

"The order will require detention at all U.S. ports of entry of tuna and any such merchandise manufactured wholly or in part by the Tunago No. 61," the CBP statement said. "Importers of detained shipments are provided an opportunity to export their shipments or demonstrate that the merchandise was not produced with forced labor."

...[T]he Tariff Act of 1930 bans imports of merchandise or food produced at least in part by forced or indentured child labor, including forced child labor.

"Such products are subject to exclusion and/or seizure, and may lead to criminal investigation of the importer,".... "When information reasonably but not conclusively indicates that products of forced labor are being imported, the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection may issue withhold release orders."

....The Seafood Import Monitoring Program requires tuna importers to trace their shipments to prevent illegal, unreported, and unregulated fish from entering the country. IUU fishing includes slave labor.

...Human trafficking has long been considered an issue affecting global seafood trade. A report from the International Labour Organization states nearly 25 million people work as slaves or in other coerced labor arrangements, such as debt bondage. Of that number, 11 percent work in farming and fishing sectors.

Tunago No. 61 is a 53.5-meter tuna longliner owned by the Tunago Fishery Co., Ltd., based in Port Vila, Vanuatu, according to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission...

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