FishWise Introduces RISE, a New Tool to Help Businesses Address Social Risks

Created on Monday, 18 March 2019

Amplifying Worker Voice

On June 10-14, 2019, FishWise staff members attended the SeaWeb Seafood Summit in Bangkok, Thailand. In a session including workers, trade unions, seafood companies, and grievance tools, FishWise Project Director Jen Cole led a seminar titled “Amplifying Worker Voice”, which placed social responsibility at the center stage. The more than two hundred participants in attendance learned about pathways to improving worker engagement and representation through both corporate and governance initiatives. Representatives from worker-focused organizations based in Thailand — such as Labor Rights Promotion Network, Migrant Worker Rights Network, and Fishers Rights Network — shared their perspectives and recommendations to support advocacy and the rights of seafood workers.

Social Responsibility Spotlight and RISE

Also at the Seafood Summit, FishWise hosted a “Social Responsibility Spotlight” happy hour to celebrate the contributions of the many organizations in the seafood sector focused on improving the lives of workers. More than 15 organizations presented information about their organization and the ways in which they support businesses in making improvements. Drinks, food, and an hour of valuable networking time to spur conversation and future collaboration followed. The night concluded with a screening of Fair Trade USA’s new short film, “The Human Face of Sustainability” and a Q&A session with the director of the film.

The Launch of RISE

Businesses are increasingly focused on labor practices in their supply chains. But knowing a problem exists and then making progress to address it can be a complex, challenging undertaking.

“FishWise has worked on social issues in seafood for many years, even prior to revelations of forced labor in shrimp supply chains,” said Tobias Aguirre, CEO of FishWise. In 2017, we heard from companies that this was a hot button issue, there were too many resources, they felt paralyzed and didn’t know where to start. Last year, we set out to solve that problem by building RISE.”

We’re excited to introduce the Roadmap for Improving Seafood Ethics (RISE), a new tool to help businesses with ethical seafood sourcing. Built by FishWise with support from the Walmart Foundation and in consultation with leading human rights organizations, RISE offers seafood businesses streamlined guidance and actionable recommendations to:

  • Evaluate their supply chain risks
  • Understand and improve labor practices
  • Engage workers and make improvements that matter
  • Communicate about their policies, expectations, and progress

RISE is a free online platform, and pairs guidance with a referral hub that connects companies with experts who can help them accelerate progress. Like FishWise, many NGOs, third party service providers, and consultants are available to help companies navigate their current practices and identify priorities.

“This roadmap leverages all the great work conducted by experts in related fields, and makes it easier for companies to access the information by simplifying it and highlighting best practices; providing clear, easy-to-follow recommendations; connecting companies to practical tools; and facilitating referrals to experts worldwide,” said Cora Sorenson, Senior Project Manager, FishWise.

Seafood businesses want to uphold legal and ethical labor conditions and safeguard worker well-being—and RISE helps them to do that.

“FishWise works with our partners to explore and address these issues, including assessing risks, evaluating labor and compliance practices, and setting supply chain expectations. Over time, RISE will help more companies move toward a worker-centered approach to supply chain management. This means engaging workers as they explore issues and develop solutions, and doing so in a way that safeguards workers from harm,” offered Jen Cole, Project Director, FishWise.

Social issues are complex and require the seafood industry to approach improvements in a new way, so it will be important to keep RISE up to date within this fast-changing landscape.

“At FishWise, we keep our finger on the pulse of the emerging issues in socially responsible seafood, and seek input from a strong network of labor and sustainable seafood experts. Areas we’re prioritizing are new legislation and regulations that might affect companies, new initiatives entering the space, and new guidance on the key worker-centered issues, as these—and related guidance—evolve,” shared Nathan Zetterberg, Project Manager, FishWise.

Excitingly, momentum for social improvements continues to build. The Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, for example, is committed to addressing these challenges, whether it is through engagement with companies, on-the-ground work with communities, the establishment of fisheries improvement projects, or a range of other activities.

“The Monterey Framework for Social Responsibility addresses human rights violations in the seafood sector—spanning labor rights to the undermining of food and livelihood security, institutionalized inequality, and loss of access rights. RISE builds on that work, offering companies practical steps they can take to understand their risks, implement improvements and as well as connections to human rights experts who businesses can partner with to make real progress.” Said Juno Fitzpatrick, Program Manager, Social Responsibility, Global Fisheries and Aquaculture program, Conservation International, Center for Oceans.

Most importantly, RISE will play an important role in helping the seafood industry accelerate progress.

“Social responsibility—keeping people safe, valuing their contribution and preserving their dignity sounds simple but it’s incredibly complex. Even with the best of intentions it’s hard for companies to focus and organize their efforts to improve people’s lives. It’s even harder to track company progress to an improvement goal. As an invaluably rich and comprehensive resource that gives overview, guidance and resources, we hope RISE allows more companies to set a path to improvement and follow it.” Said Richard Stavis, Chief Sustainability Officer, Stavis Seafoods.

Visit to learn more about how RISE makes social responsibility performance easier.

Questions? Contact