Effective February 4, 2019, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has ordered the detention at all U.S. ports of entry of tuna and any such merchandise manufactured wholly or in part by the Tunago No. 61, which is a fishing vessel owned by Tunago Fishery Co., LTD a company located in Vanuatu. According to the CBP press release of February 6, 2019, importers of detained shipments are provided an opportunity to export their goods or demonstrate that they were not produced with forced labor. The Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. § 1307) bans imports of merchandise or food produced in whole or at least in part by forced labor, including convict labor, forced child labor, and indentured labor.

Human trafficking has long been considered an issue affecting global seafood trade. CBP’s investigations into imports of forced labor span across a variety of different industries and have been applied on a country-wide basis as well as to specific producers and, most recently, as to a shipping vessel.

How can this new import detention affect you?

Importers have an obligation to exercise reasonable care and take all necessary and appropriate steps to comply with the forced labor import ban and the sanctions for forced labor and slavery of North Koreans under the Countering Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). If an importer’s shipment is detained, the importer bears the responsibility to demonstrate to CBP through clear and convincing evidence that the merchandise was not produced with a form of prohibited labor. If this requirement is not met by the importer, CBP will provided the importer an opportunity to export their goods to a location outside the United States within the 3-month detention period.

How can DTL help the importer?

Diaz Trade Law is a Customs and International Trade Law Expert and can help ensure that you have taken all the precautions to comply with CBP’s mandated Reasonable Care and Forced Labor requirements.