Blog

Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission Increases Safety Standards for Fisheries Observers Working Aboard Fishing Vessels

Created on Wednesday, 18 January 2017

 

Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries

In late 2016, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) took a step forward in improving fisheries management by adopting a new set of Agreed Minimum Standards and Guidelines of the Regional Observer Program and Conservation and Management Measures (CMM) for the Protection of WCPFC Regional Observer Program Observers. Fisheries observers have frequently been cited as an important solution to preventing illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, as well as an additional safeguard against egregious human rights abuses. Unfortunately, the challenging and sometimes dangerous conditions that observers face in order to fulfill their duties are less well-known. The Association for Professional Observers has highlighted cases of assault, intimidation, unsafe work conditions, and even murder of observers for simply conducting their duties.

The new minimum standards and guidelines adopted by the WCPFC contain measures to improve the safety and working conditions for observers aboard fishing vessels participating in the WCPFC’s observer program. The standards call for minimum requirements to be met by observer providers, observer programs, and WCPFC participating fishing nations in supporting and training observers, as well as standards for their safety. The latter includes a now mandatory emergency action plan for observers to specifically handle instances of intimidation, harassment, assault, and other safety issues; the provision of an independent two-way communications system; and emergency safety beacon.

In addition to the new standards, the WCPFC has also implemented a new set of Conservation Management Measures (CMM), which provides protocols to the flag states of fishing vessels participating in the WCPFC to address instances of assault, intimidation, harassment, and death of observers. In particular, it requires flag states to immediately take action to preserve the safety of the observer if they are in danger. Instances of abuse can be reported during or after the voyage, and flag states are required to fully cooperate in any resulting investigations.

Looking ahead, the new agreed minimum standards and guidelines and CMM are a positive step in addressing the safety of observers in the line of duty. By promoting a safe working environment, observers will be more empowered to act as safeguards against instances of IUU fishing and possible human rights abuses at sea. Those who support the important role of observers in the sustainable and ethical management of fisheries should applaud the move by the WCPFC while pushing for further safeguards for observers in WCPFC’s program and elsewhere.

For more information about the WCPFC Agreed Minimum Standards and Guidelines of the Regional Observer Program and Conservation and Management Measures (CMM) for the Protection of WCPFC Regional Observer Program Observers, please contact info@fishwise.org.

Landmark Fishing and Human Rights Treaty to Enter into Force

Created on

 

Photo credit: FAO

What happened?

On November 16th 2016, Lithuania became the tenth country to ratify the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Work in Fishing Convention 2007, No. 188 (C188), meeting the minimum threshold of ten ratifications needed to enter into force in November 2017. This is a major step in the fight to eliminate human rights abuses at sea as the convention will be the first international treaty in force that specifically addresses the labor conditions of fishermen at sea.

Why is this important?

Fishermen at sea had previously been exempt from almost all international maritime labor treaties addressing the safety and fair treatment of workers at sea. This has left fishermen vulnerable to egregious human rights abuses by unscrupulous fishing companies, captains, and recruitment agencies. C188 seeks to close this gap by mandating minimum labor standards for all fishermen aboard all fishing vessels flying the flag of nations that have ratified the convention.

The convention includes requirements that support human rights at sea such as: fisher’s work agreement (contract) for all fishermen; minimum rest periods; standards for recruitment (including no fees in recruitment process); regular payment of wages; and minimum living and working conditions. The convention also clearly defines the responsibilities of the captain and vessel owner in ensuring the fair treatment of workers.

To supplement C188, the ILO also created the Work in Fishing Recommendation 2007, No. 199 which provides non-binding guidelines to implement the new requirements.

What next?

Seafood companies and civil society should urge nations with large fishing fleets to ratify the convention. As the convention aims to address many of the concerns raised by fishermen regarding their ethical treatment, it has the potential to significantly improve human rights protections for workers on fishing vessels. Additionally, because of the possible links between illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and egregious human rights abuses at sea, the convention could impact sustainability. By ratifying and/or supporting the treaty, countries and businesses will be sending a signal that they are committed to instilling ethical conduct aboard fishing vessels and sustainable fisheries.

For more information about the International Labor Organization’s Work in Fishing Convention, 2007, please contact info@fishwise.org.

Welcome Chase Martin!

Created on

 

Hello FishWise readers!

I’m Chase Martin and I am thrilled to join the FishWise team as the Communications Project Manager. I will be leading FishWise’s internal and external communications activities to amplify our mission and drive storytelling around our work in seafood sustainability.

My love for the ocean and seafood was influenced by my childhood in the American deep south, where I grew up fishing the salt marshes of the Georgia coast and hunting for shark teeth along the beaches of eastern Florida.

I bring to FishWise a unique background in communications and marine conservation. My original plans to become a marine biologist took a turn when I majored in Journalism at the University of Georgia, but my passion came full circle when I completed my M.A.S. in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where I concentrated my studies on fisheries and seafood sustainability. My research culminated in a genetic analysis of octopus specimens from Southern California seafood markets, detailing which species were present and the possible fisheries, taxonomic, and resource implications of these products. After grad school, I worked in the communications department of Conservation International’s D.C. office, where I focused on media relations and press outreach around CI’s conservation work. I am very excited to have the opportunity to combine my communications skills and passion for the ocean through my position at FishWise.

As most ocean lovers, I enjoy being in the water whenever I can, whether it’s bodyboarding, swimming, freediving, or paddle boarding. I also enjoy cooking (sustainable) seafood and channeling my marine passions through painting and other artistic outlets.

Status of IUU Nations Carded by European Commission

Created on Tuesday, 03 January 2017

 

flag_yellow_low

As part of FishWise’s ongoing efforts to track news related to Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, we are closely monitoring updates to the European Commission’s IUU watch list.

The European Commission (EC) issues yellow cards and red cards to nations that have not taken sufficient action to control IUU activity in their waters or by their flagged vessels. Yellow cards serve as a formal warning to countries that the Commission wants to see time-bound improvement in their anti-IUU governance, while a red card can include economic sanctions and trade measures. Countries that have been yellow carded have six months to show improved structural and legal reforms to their fisheries management, monitoring, and enforcement systems. If the EC decides a country has made insufficient progress after six months, the country will be given a red card and potentially banned from importing fishery products into the European Union.

Nation with red card:

  • Cambodia

 

Nations with yellow cards:

  • Comoros
  • Curacao
  • Kiribati
  • Saint Kitts & Nevis
  • Saint Vincent & Grenadines
  • Sierra Leone
  • Solomon Islands
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Trinidad and Tobego
  • Tuvalu

 

The following nations were previously carded but have made credible progress in improving their fisheries governance and combatting IUU, and have subsequently been removed from the EC’s IUU watch list:

  • Belize
  • Fiji
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Panama
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Philippines
  • South Korea
  • Sri Lanka
  • Togo
  • Vanuatu

 

For further details about the European Commission’s anti-IUU fishing program, please see the Commission’s news page.

Greenpeace Releases ‘Turn the Tide’: A New Report about Human Rights Abuses in Thailand’s Distant Water Fishing Fleet

Created on Tuesday, 20 December 2016

 

saya-de-malha-bank

Photo credit: Cheryl-Samantha Owen

In December 2016, Greenpeace released a new report, “Turn the Tide,” on a 12-month investigation regarding the activities of Thailand’s distant water fishing fleet. This report follows up on previous reports that first revealed egregious human rights abuses aboard Thai fishing vessels, and instigated improvements in fisheries management in Thailand. The investigation found that Thai fishing vessel operators continue to carry out the same human rights abuses previously reported by moving to distant waters where management is weaker.

The report focuses primarily on activities of the Thai fishing fleet in the Saya de Malha Bank in the Indian Ocean and includes extensive interviews with fishermen, fishing operator representatives, and captains. These interviews paint a detailed picture of the human rights violations occurring against fishermen, ranging from debt bondage, human trafficking, forced labor, and malnutrition. The crucial role of transshipment in supporting the conditions that lead to these labor abuses is highlighted in this report.

The report is groundbreaking in two ways:

  • It links Thai vessels supplying the global tuna supply chain to human rights abuses.
  • It highlights the family owned fishing companies that operate the vessels carrying out human rights abuses, including names, structure, and their influence in Thailand’s seafood industry.

 

While emphasizing that more needs to be done, the investigation acknowledges the positive steps taken by governments (including Thailand) and the seafood industry, and provides a series of recommendations to remedy the situation.

To assist companies in understanding and integrating the findings of this report, FishWise has drafted a briefing on this issue that you can review here.

For more information on this brief and report, please contact info@fishwise.org.

IUU Task Force Finalizes U.S. Seafood Traceability Program

Created on Monday, 19 December 2016

After two years in development, The Presidential Task Force for Combatting Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud has finalized the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) – a national seafood traceability program that will apply to select seafood products entering U.S. commerce beginning January 1, 2018.

Though data collection is currently limited to 15 priority species, the program may be expanded to all species in the future. Traceability information about product sources and chain of custody will be submitted electronically by the importer of record. Though this program does not track product chain of custody after entry into U.S. commerce (not full-chain traceability), it is an important step towards more traceable seafood supply chains.

Many Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions organizations have contributed to the development and design of the new program via multiple rounds of public comments and consultation. FishWise has created a brief on the SIMP available here, and will continue to track the development of this program.

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-10-34-00-am

 

IUU Task Force Releases Action Plan to Build Capacity to Fight IUU Fishing

Created on

Background on Recommendation 6

The Presidential Task Force on Combatting Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud was established by Executive Memorandum in 2014 and directed to develop recommendations to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud through a coordinated inter-agency effort. Recommendation 6 addresses the need for international capacity building efforts to strengthen fisheries management and combat IUU fishing “in consultation with relevant government, donor, technical, industry, and non-governmental organizations, and with appropriate public outreach.” Through the implementation of Recommendation 6, international capacity can be built to not only combat IUU fishing but also human rights and labor abuses, which are often inextricably linked.

Status

The Task Force Recommendation 6 Working Group (WG) recently released a Strategic Action Plan for Building International Capacity to Strengthen Fisheries Management and Combat Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing. This Plan presents a framework for building international capacity needed to achieve legal and sustainable fisheries, while recognizing that capacity building must focus on systems, organizations, and individuals in order to foster the institutions, technologies, human resources, and political will required to address these issues. The Action plan identifies important short and long-term U.S. government activities for combatting IUU fishing at an international scale (summarized in Annex A). The Plan focuses on six broad strategies:

  1. Enhancing industry and market incentives for self-regulation
  2. Fostering greater transparency in fisheries management and supply chains
  3. Strengthening fisheries governance and management
  4. Building enforcement capabilities and effectiveness
  5. Leveraging political will and fostering genuine constituencies
  6. Promoting stronger coordination in capacity building 

 

Additionally, the Working Group consulted with experts to develop a conceptual model of the drivers of IUU fishing, and to identify leverage points for affecting change (see page 4 of report). These leverage points, in turn, informed the strategies and short and long-term activities to be implemented. To address the sixth priority and improve information exchange about existing and planned projects USID has launched a new interactive online inventory of capacity building projects. Anyone can access the inventory and register and submit information about a capacity project for inclusion.

Many of the initiatives undertaken by the members and collaborators of the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions align with the strategies it outlines. FishWise has created a summary brief about the action plan which can be accessed at the link below.

paper-download FishWise Brief on IUU Task Force Recommendation 6

 

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-10-32-27-am-copy

FishWise Visits StarKist in American Samoa

Created on Saturday, 03 December 2016

starkist
Photo Credit: Elsie Tanadjaja

In November and December of 2015, FishWise staff Mariah Boyle and Elsie Tanadjaja went on a trip to the South Pacific to learn more about tuna fisheries. Tuna is the third most consumed seafood in the U.S., with fresh and frozen offerings in steaks and sashimi along with the American staple of canned tuna. Tuna are impressive fish – they are large, migrate throughout the world’s oceans, and have specialized physiology to swim quickly and regulate their body temperatures. Mariah and Elsie visited several countries and many companies during their trip. One of these companies was StarKist, based in American Samoa.

StarKist has not only been a household name on the mainland, but has had a long history in American Samoa as well. Established in 1963, the StarKist cannery has become the largest private employer in American Samoa, representing approximately half of the island’s workforce. In fact, StarKist’s American Samoa cannery is the largest cannery in the world, producing over 60% of the island’s canned tuna. American Samoa plays a vital role in canned tuna production and the local economy depends on the canning industry in return.

StarKist’s parent company, Dongwon Industries based in South Korea, is one the world’s largest tuna processing companies with a forty-two vessel fleet. While visiting the facility, Mariah and Elsie were able to board one of company’s massive reefer carriers which stood three-stories tall!

Mariah and Elsie also had the opportunity to learn about StarKist’s efforts in sustainable and socially responsible fishing practices. As a founding member of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), StarKist works with ISSF scientists and industry members to support science-based conservation initiatives for the sustainability of tuna stocks and healthy ecosystems. StarKist also engages in multiple efforts to address potential risks for human trafficking and forced labor in its supply chains, such as contracting third-party audits of major suppliers for compliance in counter-human trafficking and anti-slavery laws.

FishWise would like to extend a warm ‘thank you’ to StarKist for their hospitality and for welcoming our staff to tour the facility and learn more about its operations. Gaining a better understanding of StarKist’s scale of operation and contributions to the local economy sheds light on the work we do at FishWise and continues a positive and forward-thinking dialogue on how important it is to continue implementing and improving upon tuna sustainability and traceability within the industry.

FishWise would like to extend a warm ‘thank you’ to StarKist for their hospitality and for welcoming our staff to tour the facility and learn more about its operations. Gaining a better understanding of StarKist’s scale of operation and contributions to the local economy sheds light on the work we do at FishWise and continues a positive and forward-thinking dialogue on how important it is to continue implementing and improving upon tuna sustainability and traceability within the industry.

FishWise Visits SolTuna in Solomon Islands

Created on Thursday, 01 December 2016

SolTuna blog picture

Photo Credit: Elsie Tanadjaja

In November and December of 2015, FishWise staff Mariah Boyle and Elsie Tanadjaja went on a trip to the South Pacific to learn more about tuna fisheries. Tuna is the third most consumed seafood in the U.S., with fresh and frozen offerings in steaks and sashimi along with the American staple of canned tuna. Tuna are impressive fish – they are large, migrate throughout the world’s oceans, and have specialized physiology to swim quickly and regulate their body temperatures. Mariah and Elsie visited several countries and many companies during their trip. One of these companies was SolTuna, based in the Solomon Islands.

Established in 1973, SolTuna is a shining example of a company owned and operated by the local community. The company focuses on economic equity, employing nearly 2,000 local residents and ensuring that most of the profits flow back into the Solomon Islands community. In 2014, SolTuna was awarded the prestigious Business of the Year by the Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, where he highlighted the company’s employment of women and promotion of food security for their families.

In July 2016, the Solomon Islands yellowfin and skipjack tuna harvested by pole-and-line and purse seine completed its Marine Stewardship Certification (MSC). Tri Marine, a partial owner of SolTuna, spearheaded the MSC accreditation along with its subsidiary, National Fisheries Developments (NFD). The group also completed its MSC Chain of Custody certification to promote product traceability throughout its supply chains.

This newly minted MSC certified fishery represents between 25,000 to 30,000 metric tons of yellowfin and skipjack tuna annually. Most of that haul is processed through SolTuna. While canned tuna is the primary product, SolTuna also processes frozen loins, fish meal, and fish oil. There is a strong regional market for SolTuna products as it is also a main contributor to the Solomon Islands’ food security.

Beyond the Solomon Islands, SolTuna products are exported regionally to Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand, with some loined tuna exported to European markets. Currently, SolTuna products are not available in the U.S., though the company has expressed interest – our team would be thrilled to see SolTuna’s Canned Chili Tuna on supermarket shelves!

soltuna-blog-picture-2

FishWise would like to extend a warm thank you to SolTuna for allowing our staff to tour their facility, learn about its traceability system, and for welcoming Mariah and Elsie to celebrate Christmas in the Pacific! Gaining a better understanding of SolTuna’s traceability systems and contribution to the local economy sheds light on the work we do at FishWise and continues a positive and forward-thinking dialogue on how important it is to continue implementing and improving upon tuna sustainability and traceability within the industry.

Press Release: FishWise Partner Sea Delight Announces Ambitious Traceability Policy

Created on Wednesday, 09 November 2016

 

FISHWISE PRESS RELEASE (PDF available here)

Santa Cruz, California, November 9, 2016.  As part of its ongoing efforts to continuously improve the quality, integrity, and environmental responsibility of its seafood products, FishWise distributor partner Sea Delight has announced a new Traceability Policy. “Sea Delight has proven itself as a leader in sustainable seafood,” states William Wall, Distributor Division Director at FishWise. Their new Traceability Policy represents a significant step forward for the company and raises the bar for seafood distributors everywhere in terms of progressive seafood traceability commitments.

The Traceability Policy expands Sea Delight’s existing Sustainable Seafood Policy to improve traceability and social responsibility for all seafood products the company procures, and emphasizes continual improvements within its own business practices and throughout the supply chains that Sea Delight works with. Building off Sea Delight’s previous traceability achievements and its ongoing collaboration with World Wildlife Fund, the Policy also includes time-bound commitments to improving data collection, ensuring effective implementation of on-the-ground traceability improvements in various fishery improvement projects (FIPs), and engaging in multi-stakeholder dialogues to improve seafood traceability and encourage industry collaboration. Incorporating recommendations from the Common Vision for Sustainable Seafood, Sea Delight will provide annual public updates on its progress towards these commitments.

“This is such an exciting moment for our company,” says Adriana Sanchez, Sustainability Director at Sea Delight. “We are setting an industry-leading precedent among North American seafood distributors by publicly committing to work towards best practices in traceability, address critical issues such as legality and social responsibility, and engage our supply chain partners in collaborative and long-lasting improvements.”

Progress on Sea Delight’s traceability and social responsibility commitments can be followed at http://www.sea-delight.com/traceability.html.

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 create trust between seafood vendors and their customers, enabling businesses to sell more sustainable seafood. For more information, please visit www.fishwise.org.

About Sea Delight
Sea Delight, LLC was founded in 2006 by Eugenio and Margarita Sanchez, the owners of ADS Seafood, LLC dba Atlantic Fisheries, as an initiative that sought to target the market of high quality frozen and fresh seafood products. Superior products, excellent customer service and our commitment to responsible business practices have grown Sea Delight, LLC, and its sister companies, into market leaders and international conservation specialists in the seafood industry today.

Media Contacts

FishWise
Bill Wall
Distributor Division Director
b.wall@fishwise.org

Sea Delight, LLC
Adriana Sanchez
Sustainability Director
adriana@sea-delight.com