TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Greenpeace has asked the United States Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) to intervene and investigate allegations of human rights abuse documented against the Taiwan international seafood trading company Fong Chun Formosa (FCF), according to a press release published on Thursday (Sept. 9).
Greenpeace said FCF stands accused of forced labor; human trafficking; illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing; and illegal shark finning in the past. It alleged the company is also potentially linked to the deaths of a fishery observer and a migrant fisherman.
The organization filed a petition that demanded FCF revise its human rights policies, improve its social audit program, disclose its suppliers, and improve working conditions for its workers within a 90-day period. Otherwise, Greenpeace said the "CBP should block all FCF imports from entering the U.S."
Other nonprofit organizations that signed the petition include the Indonesian Fisheries Workers Association, Keelung Migrant Fishermen Union, Indonesian Migrant Workers Union, North Sulawesi Seafarers Union, Indonia, Taiwan Association for Human Rights, and Yilan Migrant Fishermen Union.
“Migrant fishers are enslaved in a system in which the payment they receive is not commensurate with the work and treatment they endure,” Greenpeace quoted Allison Lee (李麗華), secretary general of Yilan Migrant Fisherman Union as saying. FCF has benefited “enormously” from the exploitation, she added.
Greenpeace filed the petition just days after FCF announced the expansion of its social responsibility program that “will create improved recruiting procedures that are fair, transparent, and verifiable and protect crew member rights wherever they are assigned.”
FCF responded that it immediately stops working with any distant water fishing (DWF) fleet that appears on USCBP’s list of Withhold Release Orders, CNA reported. It also said it demands that cooperating fleets meet the International Labour Organization’s Work in Fishing Convention and other common social responsibility standards.
FCF added that it filters suppliers according to the Taiwan Council of Agriculture Fisheries Agency’s (FA) IUU Fishing List, in addition to using information management systems and a document evaluation process, per CNA.
The FA said it asked accusers to back allegations up with concrete evidence so as not to affect the industry’s development, according to CNA. The agency is also pushing its “Fishery and Human Rights Action Plan” to secure migrant fishermen's rights and promote corporate social responsibility.
FCF’s website says the company is one of the world’s largest “marine products integrated supply chain service provider companies specializing in tuna” with more than 30 subsidiaries, fishing bases, and shipping agents around the globe. According to Greenpeace, the company works with a fleet of over 500 fishing vessels and has an estimated annual revenue of around NT$1.24 trillion (US$45 billion).