Informative resources for seafood-related human rights issues

Created on Thursday, 12 March 2015

At the 2015 SeaWeb Seafood Summit plenary “Preventing Human Rights Abuses In Seafood Supply Chains”, six panelists spoke out about the complexity of human rights and labor abuses within the seafood industry and the inherent difficulties of addressing these issues throughout seafood supply chains.

The following publicly available resources expand upon the topics highlighted during the plenary and provide additional information about the issues and improvement efforts.

Is there a comprehensive overview of seafood-related human rights issues?

The FishWise white paper, Trafficked II summarizes human rights abuses in seafood supply chains. Trafficked II provides an overview of the issues and the major challenges to reform (corruption, lack of transparency, lack of enforcement, and the prevalence of illegal fishing). It explores how more than fifty international and regional government programs, certification systems, NGOs, companies, and industry groups are working on human and labor rights. Companies can use the recommended steps in this report to address human rights.

How are environmental and social issues linked within seafood supply chains?

The powerful Environmental Justice Foundation video and accompanying report, ‘Pirates & Slaves: How Overfishing in Thailand Fuels Human Trafficking and the Plundering of Our Oceans’, demonstrate the links between declining sustainability in fisheries, Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported (IUU) fishing and human rights abuses in Thai fisheries. EJF’s first major investigation into human rights abuses at sea was in 2010 with a focus on West Africa. The ‘All at Sea’ video and report provide a good overview of how EJF’s work in this area began, and the urgent need for action.

What is human trafficking and where does it occur?

The U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons calculates scores that represent countries’ compliance with the U.S. Trafficking Protection Act (TVPA) and are reported annually in the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. The TIP report is the U.S. Government’s principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking. To learn more, download these fact sheets describing human trafficking and the intersectionbetween environmental degradation and human trafficking.

Do current efforts to audit social compliance aboard fishing vessels exist?

The Seafish Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS)is a voluntary vessel based program certifying high standards of crew welfare and responsible catching practices on all types of fishing vessels and fisheries. The RFS is the only global standard that audits compliance on board fishing vessels, including ethical and welfare criteria. Check out this video to learn how the RFS is designed to complement the existing standards in the fisheries and seafood supply chain.

Can environmental and social criteria be evaluated together?

Yes! In February, Safeway and Fair Trade USA announced a partnership to bring the first-ever Fair Trade Certifiedâ„¢ wild fish to the North American market. This is the first wild fish certification program to include both environmental and social benchmarks, ensuring that fishermen operate under internationally recognized fair working conditions, and that they must meet independently audited standards of environmental compliance. Learn why handline-caught yellowfin from the Maluku Island chain of Indonesia is so exiting for fishermen and consumers alike in this National Geographic article.

To learn more about FishWise’s work on human rights, please contact us.