The U.S. has imposed financial sanctions on two Chinese fishing fleet companies and several individuals engaging in alleged illegal fishing and human rights abuses.
The Treasury Department, on Friday, December 9, announced sanctions on Dalian Ocean Fishing and Pingtan Marine Enterprise. It also targeted Chinese nationals Li Zhenyu and Zhuo Xinrong, who controlled fishing fleet networks with the two companies.
Pingtan Marine Enterprise is a Chinese firm listed on the Nasdaq exchange.
The move from the Treasury Department marked the first time the U.S. has imposed “Global Magnitsky” sanctions on a Nasdaq-listed firm. The punitive action will freeze any U.S.-based assets of the designated companies and individuals and ban Americans from doing business with them.
A Treasury Department statement said, “Today’s action demonstrates the U.S. government’s ongoing effort to impose tangible and significant consequences on those engaged in serious human rights abuse, including on those vessels engaged in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.”
The U.S. also punished 157 China-flagged fishing vessels tied to the sanctioned entities.
Undersecretary of the Treasury Department for terrorism and financial intelligence, Brian Nelson, said, “These designations demonstrate how seriously we take the problem of illicit fishing and our commitment to holding the perpetrators of serious human rights abuses to account.”
According to the Financial Times, the U.S. said the crew on certain vessels from Dalian Ocean Fishing were abused as they suffered unacceptable working conditions. They had to work 18 hours a day for 13 months and eat food that had passed its expiry date. Five crew members had died, and three bodies were dumped overboard.
Many nations worldwide have criticized Chinese fishing practices as these vessels often violate other countries’ 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zones and cause environmental damage and financial losses.