The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch® program, already the global standard for environmentally responsible seafood, has created a new tool that allows businesses to assess the potential risk of forced labor, human trafficking and child labor in fisheries.
The Seafood Slavery Risk Tool — created in partnership with Liberty Asia, Seafish and the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) — produces a rating indicating the likelihood that human rights violations are occurring on fishing boats in a specific fishery. Organizations can use the tool to identify seafood sourced from fisheries that have these issues and take steps to address them.
“Understanding the environmental impact of fishing and aquaculture is key to seafood sustainability,” said Julie Packard, Executive Director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. “The working conditions of the people who provide our seafood are equally important. The new risk tool developed by Seafood Watch and our partners will give major businesses insight into the possibility of human rights abuses in their supply chains. They can then work with suppliers to correct problems, toward the goal of achieving a seafood supply that’s sustainable for both the ocean and the people whose livelihoods depend on fishing and seafood processing jobs.”
Human rights abuses in the global seafood supply chain are increasingly coming under public scrutiny, but up until recently, there have been no readily available resources for businesses to use to begin addressing them. Seafood Watch and its partners developed the Slavery Risk Tool in response to conversations with its business partners and requests for support from the seafood and financial industries.
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The tool helps fill a gap in the seafood supply chain with respect to transparency in sourcing by enabling businesses to identify potentially high-risk fisheries in their supply chains. It also encourages organizations to engage directly with suppliers to correct abuses.
Available at no cost, the Seafood Slavery Risk Tool rates the likelihood that human rights violations are present in a specific fishery. A fishery could be rated as being at critical, high, moderate or low risk for these abuses. The ratings are derived from credible, publically available sources, including reports by authoritative institutions, such as government agencies, and civil society organizations.
The Risk Tool was developed over the course of two years, in a process that included extensive peer review by businesses and human rights organizations, including the International Labour Organization, the US Department of Labor, US State Department, Fair Trade USA, FishWise, Winrock, Greenpeace, Slave Free Seas, USAID and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“Human rights abuses in the seafood industry are an endemic and ongoing problem,” said Jim Cannon, CEO of SFP. “We’re proud to be involved with the development of what we believe will be a valuable tool for the industry to help prevent these kinds of abuses from occurring.”
The Seafood Slavery Risk Tool complements Seafood Watch’s approximately 1,100 science-based seafood recommendations, which focus largely on the impact of fishing and fish farming on the health of ocean ecosystems. Using these resources in combination, businesses can address both environmental issues and human rights violations associated with the seafood supply chain.