The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has released an action plan to combat human trafficking at home and abroad, an initiative that includes a focus on labor issues in the global seafood industry.
The U.S. Trade Representative National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, released in December 2021, involves better coordination among American agencies as well as with other countries’ law enforcement bodies to track and prosecute human trafficking on fishing vessels and in onshore seafood processing facilities. Under the plan, the USTR will ramp up its efforts to encourage other countries to put in place bans on imports of goods made with forced labor.
“Human trafficking is an evil practice that contradicts who we are as Americans and the rights we cherish,” U.S. Homeland Security Advisor and Assistant to the President Liz Sherwood-Randall said in a USTR press release. “With this National Action Plan, we reaffirm our commitment to preventing and punishing human trafficking in all its forms and to addressing the social and economic conditions that can create greater vulnerabilities for marginalized groups.”
John Connelly, the president of U.S. seafood industry trade group National Fisheries Institute, called out labor issues as a top concern for the industry in 2022 in his annual address, released 23 December.
“[We] continue to need to focus on this question of ensuring that we have fair treatment of labor on vessels,” he said. “That’s an issue that we’re going to need to address – it’s out there, it’s going to continue to be out there and we need to continue to work with organizations like [Fairness, Integrity, Safety, Health Standards for Crew] to solve that problem.