The Links Between IUU Fishing, Human Rights, and Traceability

Created on Thursday, 19 April 2018

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing threatens marine ecosystems and global food security. This unsustainable practice and the networks supporting it may also be involved in transnational crime and other illicit activity such as human rights abuses, human trafficking, and forced labor. While governments and NGOs work to monitor fisheries and raise awareness of these issues, seafood companies also play an important role in combating IUU fishing and its associated crimes.

FishWise recently released The Links Between IUU Fishing, Human Rights, and Traceability, which outlines the connections between environmental degradation and human and labor rights violations, and offers resources and a set of recommendations for the implementation of full-chain traceability program. The report highlights how improving traceability through data collection allows companies to identify and start to address risks from products associated with IUU fishing, mislabeling and fraud, and social issues. Full-chain traceability helps companies comply with both environmental and labor regulations, protect against reputational risk, satisfy customer demands, and take steps to prevent potential supply chain disruptions and revenue loss. We hope these recommendations will be helpful for both seafood companies as well as NGOs guiding companies towards social responsibility solutions.

Implementing the recommendations put forth in the report requires that companies collect key data elements (KDEs) about the source of each product, such as location of fishing or farming, flag of the vessel, and method of production to be communicated throughout the supply chains.

While establishing a comprehensive traceability program is a necessary step, more actions are needed to move towards socially responsible seafood. Understanding working conditions in seafood supply chains requires the collection of additional information on a variety of elements relevant to human and labor rights. These human welfare KDEs may not travel with the product, but can be collected through other mechanisms. They will provide objective criteria in order to assess supply chains and address specific areas of high risk, such as worker health and safety. In addition to collecting data and conducting risk assessments, engagement actions such as communicating with suppliers and consumers, joining multi-stakeholder initiatives, and supporting social improvements will amplify a company’s ability to drive positive change.

Download the report to learn what steps your company could be taking in combating IUU fishing and human rights abuses in seafood supply chains.

For more information on improving traceability and social responsibility in seafood supply chains, please visit our resource pages and download our traceability and social responsibility white papers.