US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized the catch of a Taiwanese fishing vessel that was flying a “flag of convenience” and using forced labor, the agency said on Friday.
The CBP said in a statement that the Vanuatu-flagged vessel Da Wang (大旺) is owned and operated by the Taiwanese firm Yong Feng Fishery.
The company is one of two recently found by the CBP suspected of using forced labor. The other is a Malaysian company, Sime Darby Plantation Berhad (Sime Darby), whose palm oil and related merchandise was also seized.
“CBP’s investigations found evidence of all 11 of the International Labour Organization’s forced labor indicators on the Da Wang vessel and Sime Darby Plantation’s palm oil plantations,” the statement said.
“CBP determined that Sime Darby and [Yong Feng] use forced labor in their operations, and that both companies’ goods are being, or are likely to be, imported into the United States,” the CBP said.
The CBP in July 2020 issued a Withhold Release Order against seafood caught with what it said was reasonable suspicion of forced labor, physical violence, debt bondage, withholding of wages, and abusive living conditions on the Da Wang.
A Greenpeace Southeast Asia report titled Seabound: The Journey to Modern Slavery on the High Seas in May last year said that the Da Wang was involved in forced labor.
The National Immigration Agency (NIA) also said that a migrant worker on the Da Wang was a victim of a human trafficking scheme.
The Control Yuan in May called on the Cabinet and several government agencies, including the NIA, Ocean Affairs Council and the Fisheries Agency, to address human rights abuses on Taiwanese fishing vessels flying flags of convenience.
Flying such flags is a common practice in which merchant ship owners register their vessels in a country other than their own to reduce costs, avoid taxes and bypass legal requirements that protect the wages and working conditions of their crews.
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