Supporting Worker Voice and Promoting Social Responsibility at the SeaWeb Seafood Summit

Created on Monday, 30 July 2018

Feature image: Jen Cole, Jittrinee Kaeojinda, Art Prapha, and Dominique Gautier at the “Building Socially Responsible Seafood Supply Chains through Worker Voice” panel.

In June, FishWise staff attended the SeaWeb Seafood Summit in Barcelona, Spain. The Summit brings together NGOs, academia, government, and representatives from the global seafood industry to discuss critical topics related to advancing a sustainable future for seafood and its stakeholders. This year’s conference confirmed that human and labor rights continue to draw increasing attention in the seafood sustainability space – the night before FishWise’s social responsibility panel, Patima Tungpuchayakul received the Seafood Champion Award for Advocacy in recognition of her work improving the lives of migrant workers in Southeast Asia.

Patima Tungpuchayakul receiving the Seafood Champion Award. Image courtesy of the SeaWeb Seafood Summit.

Given FishWise’s experience providing guidance to companies, FishWise was invited to moderate a panel titled “Building Socially Responsible Seafood Supply Chains through Worker Voice.” Joined by experts from Oxfam America, the Issara Institute, and Seafresh Group, Jen Cole – Senior Project Manager in the Social Responsibility Division – moderated a session which was designed to introduce the concept of worker voice in supply chains to seafood stakeholders in attendance. The session began with panel presentations from Jittrinee Kaeojinda of Issara Institute and Art Prapha of Oxfam America, and ended with a discussion session that also included Dominique Gautier of Seafresh Group.

What is worker voice?
Jittrinee began by outlining Issara Institute’s essential elements of worker voice: first, capturing the voices, experience, and needs of workers in a safe and voluntary way, and second, linking workers to a clear mechanism for remediation. Worker voice not only requires the ability for companies to receive worker grievances but also the capacity to resolve issues identified by workers. Acknowledging that companies and other seafood stakeholders can do more to effectively implement these systems, panelists emphasized the importance of the people who work in supply chains. To close, Art shared an important message from workers – “Don’t fix our problems without us.”

What are the benefits of worker voice for companies?
Dominique Gautier shared Seafresh Group’s efforts regarding worker voice and elaborated on the benefits to companies, a message echoed by Oxfam. Dominique explained how worker voice mechanisms have helped Seafresh to reduce audit fatigue while improving the ability to detect potential issues in its supply chains, empower workers, and provide opportunities for workers to give feedback on business practices.

What next?
Looking ahead, the panelists acknowledged the importance of developing a sense of responsibility from global brands and retailers, suppliers, and workers themselves. FishWise contributes to social responsibility efforts in the seafood industry through its partnerships with retailers and suppliers, but also drives change through other initiatives and convenings. Over the next year, FishWise – supported by the Walmart Foundation – will produce and curate an online roadmap that can be used to build, assess, and improve socially responsible practices in seafood supply chains. To receive updates regarding this roadmap, and FishWise’s other sustainability, traceability, and social responsibility efforts, please sign up to receive our newsletters.

FishWise staff meeting with seafood industry experts to discuss an online roadmap project supported by the Walmart Foundation.

For additional information on FishWise’s social responsibility work, please see our resource page.