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Seafood Businesses and NGOs Applaud New Labor Rights Roadmap

Created on Monday, 18 March 2019

Santa Cruz, California (March 18, 2019) — FishWise, a non-profit sustainable seafood consultancy, today released a Roadmap for Improving Seafood Ethics (RISE) developed in partnership with seafood industry and leading conservation and human rights experts. The RISE website (riseseafood.org) offers streamlined guidance and actionable steps companies can take to understand the labor conditions throughout their supply chains and make improvements to protect workers and mitigate their own regulatory and reputational risks.

“Seafood companies understand that their success depends on the well-being of the people who catch, raise, process, and transport the fish they sell, and they want to do the right thing,” said Aurora Alifano, Director of the Social Responsibility Division at FishWise. “RISE offers the help many need to turn concern into action on labor rights.”

Through dialogue with industry leaders, FishWise learned that labor rights and other social issues are a high priority for many companies, but capacity constraints and an abundance of information served as obstacles to getting started. RISE is the product of a multi-year collaboration that brought industry, human rights, labor, and human trafficking experts together to address those constraints. It offers businesses streamlined guidance and actionable steps to:

  1. Evaluate their supply chain risks
  2. Understand and improve labor practices
  3. Engage workers and make improvements that matter
  4. Communicate about their policies, expectations, and progress.

“Worker protections have been a Tri Marine priority for some time and we know that taking action is challenging and important,” said Matt Owens, Director of Environmental Policy and Social Responsibility at Tri Marine Group. “RISE offers companies an opportunity to do the right thing and address potential problems that could put their businesses at risk.”

Labor rights and other social issues are also a priority for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working with industry to improve environmental sustainability. The Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, which brings more than 40 global sustainability NGOs together to address shared challenges, updated its Common Vision for Sustainable Seafood in 2018 to prioritize social issues. FishWise is a founding Alliance member organization, as are Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program, and other NGOs who contributed to the RISE initiative.

“Seafood Watch ratings help seafood businesses improve environmental sustainability in their supply chains. RISE helps companies implement practices that protect workers and their businesses. By using Seafood Watch and RISE together, businesses can get the whole picture and make real improvements to sustainability and social responsibility,” said Ryan Bigelow, Seafood Watch Senior Program Manager.

In addition to an accessible step-by-step approach, RISE consolidates supportive resources and guidance developed by the world’s leading human rights and labor advocates. The free online platform is designed for companies to use independently. As the project progresses, there is the opportunity to bring together multiple companies to accelerate learning. RISE also offers a referral hub providing connections to experts who can provide individualized guidance and support.

“Ethical supply chain management means companies should consider the human rights and labour conditions in their supply chain. Effectively engaging workers requires soliciting their input, ensuring protections for those who speak, and establishing channels for remediation,” said Mark Taylor, Director of Strategy & Global Partnerships at the Issara Institute. “RISE offers businesses an accessible step-by-step process, supportive resources, and connections to expert advice, so they can take proactive steps.”

RISE was developed with grant funding support from Walmart Foundation, which aims to decrease the risk of forced or underage labor, human trafficking and other issues affecting workers in supply chains, making investments that focus on data to disrupt these issues and technology that advances transparency.

“The RISE roadmap and toolkit is an exciting step forward in promoting social responsibility in the seafood industry by increasing transparency of information, sharing practical examples of progress and providing clear options for industry and NGOs working to improve conditions for seafood workers,” said Karrie Denniston, Senior Director, Walmart Foundation. “We are proud to support FishWise who has taken a leadership role in integrating and advancing research, learnings and collaboration to create a better seafood sourcing industry.”

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About FishWise

FishWise is a non-profit sustainable seafood consultancy based in Santa Cruz, CA. Uniquely positioned between the seafood industry and marine conservation organizations, FishWise offers a range of services that empower businesses and a diverse community of collaborators to lead the transition to a sustainable, responsible seafood industry. For more information, please visit www.fishwise.org, and follow FishWise’s work on Facebook and Twitter.

About Tri Marine Group

Tri Marine is a recognized leader in fishing, processing and distributing high-quality tuna products to the world’s markets. The company focuses on quality, sustainability, innovation and customer satisfaction. As a socially responsible operator, Tri Marine has chosen to invest in the communities closest to fishery resources. National Fisheries Developments and SolTuna are part of the Tri Marine Global Group of Companies. For more information, visit www.trimarinegroup.com.

About the Monterey Bay Aquarium

With a mission to inspire conservation of the ocean, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is the most admired aquarium in the United States, a leader in science education and a voice for ocean conservation through comprehensive programs in marine science and public policy. The Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program is part of a comprehensive initiative to improve the sustainability of global fisheries and aquaculture, through policy leadership, scientific research, industry partnerships and consumer engagement. Everything we do works in concert to protect the future of our blue planet. More information at montereybayaquarium.org and at seafoodwatch.org.

About the Issara Institute

Issara Institute is an independent non-profit organization based in Thailand, Myanmar, and the United States tackling issues of human trafficking and forced labour in global supply chains through data, technology, partnership, and innovation. We do this by using worker voice and data analytics to transform how brands, retailers, and suppliers identify risk and address labour abuses, and by empowering migrant workers with information and opportunities to find good employers and living conditions.

CONTACTS:
FishWise: Ed Walz, 202-374-8872, ed@springboard.partners
Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program: Emerson Brown, Ebrown@mbayaq.org
Walmart: Marilee McInnis, 800-331-0085, news.walmart.com/reporter