FishWise and its members are consistently highlighted in the world's top seafood industry publications as well as mainstream public media outlets. By working with businesses to demonstrate what is not only possible, but also profitable, FishWise is at the forefront of seafood sustainability. Through this leadership, we make headlines and help our partners receive the recognition they deserve.
On June 17, 2014 President Obama released a memorandum entitled “Establishing a Comprehensive Framework to Combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud.” This document established a Presidential Task Force under the Departments of State and Commerce, which is composed of representatives from many other federal agencies.
The Task Force has been directed to identify the areas of greatest need with respect to IUU and seafood fraud, and to report back to the President within six months with recommendations for programs to address them. As a part of the process to identify the most critical IUU and fraud challenges, the Task Force invited comment from experts, key stakeholders, and seafood interest groups.
FishWise submitted two letters to the Task Force:
Links between IUU Fishing, Human Rights, and Traceability
This letter describes the related nature of IUU fishing, human rights, and traceability within the seafood industry, and suggests ways to include human rights improvements within the Task Force recommendations. This letter was also signed by the Environmental Justice Foundation, Fair Trade USA, Humanity United, New England Aquarium, and Anti-Slavery International.
Recommendations to address IUU fishing and traceability
This letter describes the risks to businesses of importing mislabeled and illegally harvested seafood into the United States, and how improved traceability and other measures can help to address IUU fishing. Recommendations include:
- Incentivize traceability improvements made by seafood companies
- Support unique vessel identifiers like IMO numbers and the creation of a Global Record of Fishing Vessels
- Continue to support ratification and implementation of the Port State Measures Agreement (PMSA)
- Encourage international efforts to improve transparency, monitoring, control and surveillance
- Update interagency agreements to encourage collaboration to address these challenges
(Updated June 26th, 2014)
FishWise has closely followed recent criticism directed at the Thai government for labor and human rights abuses occurring in the country for years without significant improvement. Evidence of human trafficking, forced labor and other human rights abuses within the Thai shrimp industry were described by The Guardian and further substantiated by the 2014 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report released by the U.S. State Department this June. European and U.S. retailers have been linked to these labor and human rights abuses publicly, and the U.S. Department of State downgraded Thailand to the lowest ranking (Tier 3) in the human trafficking index.
FishWise has drafted a briefing document on this issue. The briefing describes the primary human rights issues in the Thai shrimp supply chains, summarizes the Guardian article and TIP report, and provides recommendations for seafood buyers in the U.S. and EU. FishWise will continue to monitor this issue closely and will update the brief with new information.
You can view the briefing document here.
New Survey: Need to Improve Seafood Industry Policies on Human Rights and Engage Seafood Consumers Identified
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 12, 2014
Contact: Mariah Boyle
(831) 427-1707 x112
New Survey: Need to Improve Seafood Industry Policies on Human Rights and Engage Seafood Consumers Identified
FishWise Releases Updated White Paper on Human Rights Abuses
Santa Cruz – FishWise, a nonprofit sustainable seafood consultancy, has released an updated version of its white paper on human rights abuses in seafood supply chains.
The updated version includes the results of an online survey of several stakeholder groups, including the seafood industry and seafood consumers. It also highlights recent media stories and reports on human rights abuses in seafood supply chains and lists additional groups working on human rights that could serve as resources on these issues.
In the online survey, the majority of respondents from the seafood industry:
- Said that human rights abuses are a problem in seafood supply chains, but not a problem in their company’s seafood supply chains.
- Said that companies are responsible for ensuring that human rights abuses do not happen in their seafood supply chains.
- Over 30% said that no specific department was in charge of ensuring human rights abuses did not take place in their supply chains and over 20% said that verification relies on trust in the vendors.
- Ranked human rights below seafood safety, legality, accurate labeling, traceability, and sustainability in terms of its importance to their company’s procurement and brand reputation and its importance when marketing to consumers. The industry thought it was of moderate importance to consumers.
The majority of seafood consumers who responded to the survey also said that companies are responsible for ensuring that human rights abuses are not happening in their seafood supply chains. However, they expressed a greater level of concern about human rights issues than the seafood industry respondents assumed they would. For example, the majority of seafood consumer respondents said:
- They would be willing to pay more if a seafood product was certified to be free of human rights abuses.
- They would stop buying a seafood product if they knew it was associated with human rights abuses.
“This survey raised questions about how much seafood companies know about human rights issues happening in their own supply chains. Many of these companies have made a serious commitment to provide their customers with environmentally sustainable seafood products – and human rights abuses could undermine that commitment,” said Mariah Boyle, FishWise.
“The results also raised questions about differences between how much consumers care about human rights abuses and how much companies think consumers care about them. The consumers that responded to this survey expect companies to take responsibility for ensuring that human rights violations are not happening in seafood supply chains. This will likely become an issue for companies as media stories about human rights abuses around the world continue to increase,” said Boyle.
This is the second release of a white paper that aims to serve as a resource for seafood businesses seeking to prevent and eliminate human rights abuses in their supply chains. It provides an overview of both human rights issues in seafood supply chains and the major challenges to reform, including corruption, lack of transparency, lack of enforcement, and the prevalence of illegal fishing. It explores how more than fifty international and regional government programs, certification systems, NGOs, companies, and industry groups are working on human and labor rights.
“We developed this white paper in response to inquiries from companies that want to begin to address human rights within their own supply chains in an honest and transparent manner,” said Boyle.
The revised version of the white paper can be found at http://www.fishwise.org/services/human-rights.
FishWise, a nonprofit sustainable seafood consultancy, has authored a new white paper on human rights abuses in seafood supply chains.
This paper on human rights abuses follows FishWise's first white paper on seafood traceability. The paper intends to educate seafood businesses and stakeholders on the human rights abuses taking place in seafood supply chains and provide recommendations to improve human and labor rights within the industry.
It is important for companies to focus on social responsibility in supply chains, especially human rights, in order to demonstrate a real commitment to people, planet, and profit. Documentation of human trafficking and forced labor in seafood supply chains has been growing with increasing media attention, nongovernmental organization investigations, and government reports. Discussions of environmental sustainability within the seafood industry are now commonplace, but efforts to improve human rights in the industry are nascent and just beginning to gain the momentum necessary to catalyze real change.
In the last five years, seafood companies have created sustainable seafood sourcing policies, and are now working to meet the commitments within them. Human and labor rights are often not incorporated into these policies for seafood, as the historical focus of such efforts has been on industries such as coffee, minerals, and textiles. The seafood industry is not free of these concerns however, and the time is ripe for companies to expand their policies to address these issues. This is appropriate because environmental sustainability and human rights issues do not operate independently. Vessels and companies operating illegally often commit environmental and social crimes in tandem.
Eliminating human rights abuses in seafood supply chains is not an easy task. Challenges include corruption, exemptions within international standards for fishing vessels, lack of transparency via the use of flags of convenience and transhipment, the globalized nature of the supply chain, lack of enforcement, incomplete traceability, and the prevalence of illegal fishing. Amidst these challenges there are also opportunities. Brand value, shareholder opinion, and corporate social responsibility can benefit from companies addressing this issue in an honest and transparent manner. After improvements have been made, companies can actively promote the associated success stories, such as social and fair trade compliance, engagement in fishery improvements, and support for entrepreneurial ventures in the developing world.
It is hoped that this document will create connections across businesses, organizations, and governments and serve as a call to action to work together to eliminate human rights abuses and illegal products from supply chains. Addressing these issues is the ethical course of action, but also one that will prevent human rights abuses in supply chains from undoing the excellent work to date on the environmental sustainability of seafood.
Parsippany, NJ, October 5, 2012 – Today, Kings Food Markets announced a partnership to develop and implement a sustainable, responsible seafood program with FishWise, a non-profit organization focused on the health and recovery of ocean ecosystems.
"Much of the seafood available today comes at too high of a cost to our environment," said Judy Spires, CEO of Kings Food Markets. "At Kings, we are committed to bringing customers the best ingredients possible, and in this case, that means providing seafood options that are sourced responsibly. We are very excited to offer our shoppers this new program and build upon the variety of high-quality items for which Kings is already known."
Through its new seafood program, Kings has strengthened its commitment to offering customers environmentally friendly seafood by improving sourcing, staff training, and point of sale materials for customers. Seafood sourced through the program will now bear a "Responsible Choice" tag, meaning those products are green or yellow rated according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program. All items bearing the tag come from well-managed sources that minimize the environmental impacts of harvesting or farming, or are otherwise good alternatives to less sustainable options. Kings' seafood staff also went through extensive training to support the new program, meaning customers can feel comfortable asking any questions about the source, quality, and type of seafood in their local Kings stores.
"FishWise applauds the commitment that Kings Food Markets has made to ensure that its customers can purchase seafood responsibly, and with confidence, and we look forward to working together," William Wall, business project manager for FishWise said. "Kings Food Markets has an enduring heritage in the New Jersey region, and its ongoing commitment to affecting positive change in the local community should be commended."
The agreement between Kings Food Markets and FishWise is consistent with the Common Vision for Environmentally Sustainable Seafood. The Common Vision is an ambitious but realistic guide to environmentally responsible seafood for businesses. It was developed by more than fifteen of North America's leading ocean conservation organizations.