US shrimp sector calls for investigation into forced labour in fishmeal supply chain

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
20 December 2022, at 8:00am

US officials have been asked to launch further investigations into the supply chains for fishmeal and fish oil production in China, Thailand and Vietnam.

a shrimp boat
The Southern Shrimp Alliance supports the shrimp fishing sector in the eight warmwater shrimp producing states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas

The Southern Shrimp Alliance – which represents the shrimp fishing sector in the southern US – made the call to the Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) of the US Department of Labor in response to a Federal Register Notice published by ILAB in October 2022 that requested information and/or comment on three reports issued by the agency on child labour and forced labour in foreign countries.

The Southern Shrimp Alliance’s comments requested that ILAB consider listing the fish harvested to produce fishmeal and fish oil, and the fish feed produced from this fish, as an input produced through forced labour in the 2024 List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor. Citing studies and investigative journalism exposés, the organisation additionally asked ILAB to consider listing shrimp raised on this input as a downstream good using an input produced through forced labour or, alternatively, as a downstream good at risk of using an input produced through forced labour.

The comments filed today are the third such filing made by the alliance with ILAB since 2020.

Two years ago, the alliance raised concerns regarding the preponderance of evidence regarding forced labour practices aboard the distant-water fishing fleets of multiple countries. Following ILAB’s investigation of these industries, the agency included fish produced in China and Taiwan to the 2020 List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor.

And earlier this year, the Southern Shrimp Alliance presented evidence regarding the continued prevalence of forced and child labour in several exporting industries in India. Following ILAB’s investigation of these industries, the agency included tea produced in India in the 2022 List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor.

“Getting forced labour out of foreign supply chains is a priority for the domestic shrimp industry,” said John Williams, the executive director of the Southern Shrimp Alliance, in a press release. “Over many years, ILAB has demonstrated that the agency’s exhaustive process for investigating these supply chains and, where appropriate, listing products where forced labour and child labour has been adequately documented, is an essential foundational step in eliminating these practices.”

The Southern Shrimp Alliance’s December 16, 2022 comments to ILAB may be read here in full.