President Obama plans to sign legislation this week that will effectively ban American imports of fish caught by forced labor in Southeast Asia. The legislation, passed by the Congress last week with bipartisan support, would bar imports of products that use forced or indentured labor.
Once signed, this law will close a loophole in the Tariff Act of 1930. This law bars products made by forced or indentured labor, but only if American domestic production could meet demand. Americans consume more than one billion pounds of shrimp every year, and about 90 percent of that is imported from overseas. Because American domestic production could not meet demand, this law hasn’t applied to slave labor shrimp.
This legislative change is an important first step, but more needs to be done. Having private corporations get on board to make sure their products are ethically produced is another important step. Corporations are hearing the message that consumers care about whether their food harms other people and the environment, but we need to continue sending the message.