Bipartisan bill addresses human trafficking impact on global seafood trade

Guam’s delegate to Congress filed a bill this week that would amend an existing law that targets human trafficking to address the seafood industry’s role.

U.S. Delegate Madeline Bordallo, a Democrat, explained in a release that she offered the legislation because the country needs to eliminate human rights abuses worldwide and that American fishermen should not have to compete against imported seafood caught using slave or forced labor. Bordallo’s cosponsors include U.S. Delegate Aumua Amata (R-American Samoa), U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-Oregon) and U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona). 

H.R. 6834, if passed, would bring on the Secretary of Commerce, who oversees NOAA Fisheries, as part of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. The panel, which currently includes nearly 20 federal agencies, is responsible for coordinating the government’s actions to combat trafficking.

Bordallo’s bill also comes three months after the State Department’s human trafficking report found fisheries in more than 40 countries benefit from forced labor.

Currently, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, passed in February 2016, prohibits the United States from accepting imported goods made or processed by forced labor. Officials from U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the law, in its first two years, helped stop 15 shipments of Chinese seafood that were processed by North Korean laborers. 

“Increasingly, we are seeing foreign fishing fleets forcing vulnerable people who are trafficked, drugged, and coerced to fish around the clock out of fear for their lives,” Bordallo said. “I am pleased to have the support of my Congressional colleagues on this bipartisan legislation to increase federal action against the global crimes of human trafficking IUU fishing.”


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