US tightens laws on “forced labour” seafood

US President Barack Obama may soon consider a bill that would ban the importation of products linked to forced labour, which could include seafood from Thailand.

The U.S. Tariff Act (1930) already gives customs officials the authority to reject and block imports of products suspected to be produced with slave labour. However, the law contains a provision that allows goods made by children, prisoners or slaves to be imported if consumer demand cannot be met without them, the AP said.  The pending bill would cancel that exemption.

The measure could have far-reaching implications for Thai seafood imports as allegations of human trafficking and slave labour have dogged the country’s industry for years.  The US State Department downgraded Thailand’s ranking on its Trafficking in Persons report.

Australia lags behind the world with the labelling of seafood which ready to eat seafood being exempt from country of origin rules.  SETFIA has lobbied for ready to eat seafood to be labelled in the same way as raw seafood.  Supermarkets already do an excellent job (pictured) of labelling seafood which allows consumers to make informed decisions about work conditions, sustainability and food safety.