Bill Includes Ban on Aquaculture Products, Imposes Sanctions on Companies that Facilitate Imports

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today joined U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) in introducing legislation to ban U.S. imports of seafood and aquaculture products from China.

The Ban China’s Forbidden Operations in the Oceanic Domain (Ban C-FOOD) Act (S.3417) would also sanction companies that import Chinese seafood and place tariffs on countries that facilitate the shipment of the seafood.

“It’s past time we hold China accountable for its persistent violation of sovereign waters and its shameless use of slave labor to dominate the aquaculture market with unsafe, chemical-ridden products.  These unfair and unethical practices have disadvantaged Mississippi catfish and shrimp producers for far too long, which is why I support this bill to ban U.S. imports of such tainted products until China changes its ways,” said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

“Fishing and aquaculture is yet another industry the Chinese Communist Party is weaponizing for their own gain through blatant abuse and slave labor.  This legislation will stop imports of this illicit seafood by imposing real costs on the Chinese government and the companies that aid them,” said Cotton, who authored the legislation.

“Communist China, under Xi’s murderous regime, is on a quest for global domination, building economic power in industries like seafood and aquaculture that are known to use slave labor and other illegal, unreported, and unregulated practices that are pushing American businesses out of business in the process.  I’m proud to join my colleagues on this legislation to ban the importation of these goods from Communist China and hold any nation attempting to circumvent U.S. trade laws fully accountable,” Scott said.

S.3417 was introduced in response to indiscriminate Chinese fishing fleet violations of the sovereign waters of other nations, the depletion of international fish stocks, and its potential use of the fleet in an invasion of Taiwan.  The bill also targets the massive state subsidies for the Chinese seafood and aquaculture industry, as well as human rights violations tied to forced labor.

The Ban C-FOOD Act would:

  • One year after enactment of this bill, ban all Chinese seafood and aquaculture imports shall be prohibited from entering the United States, until such time as:  1.)  The Secretary of State reports to Congress that neither its fleets nor its aquaculture industry are meaningfully using forced labor; 2.)  The Secretary of Commerce reports to Congress that the Chinese government is not subsidizing its fishing fleets beyond international norms; and 3.)  The Secretary of Defense determines that the Chinese fishing fleet would not be used in an invasion of Taiwan.
  • Instruct Secretary of Treasury to sanction those companies found to be knowingly participating in the transshipment of Chinese seafood and aquaculture products into the United States.
  • Instruct the U.S. Trade Representative to apply those duties it deems necessary to prevent and punish nations that accommodate the transshipment of Chinese seafood into the United States.
  • Within 90 days of enactment, require the President to produce a report detailing all executive branch efforts and spending that is presently allocated to combat China’s illegal fishing and use of forced labor in its fishing fleets and aquaculture industry.  This report shall also include requests for additional funding, resources, and authorities that departments and agencies believe are necessary to combat the varying abuses of the Chinese fishing fleets.