Ethics in the seafood industry

The abuse of human rights has been in the news lately and has been highlighted after reports of alleged slavery in the supply-chain for Thailand’s shrimp sector. The British newspaper, the Guardian, reported that workers are enslaved on some of the boats that supply the Thai fishmeal industry with trash fish.  The growing media interest in social and ethical issues is putting increasing pressure on the supply-chain to put robust ethical sourcing policies in place to ensure that human rights are observed at all times.

The UK seafood industry is taking this issue very seriously and has held an ethics group meeting in July 2014 in London.  Most of the leading UK retailers, as well as industry representatives and NGO’s, were present along with IFFO’s Dr Gretel Bescoby.  The intention of the meeting was to establish the impact on stakeholders, what is being done at the moment and what can be done in future to ensure ethical, slavery-free supply chains.

The group will draft a four point strategy document and in addition plans to write a joint letter of intent to the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron and will also approach the EU Commission. 

A map showing areas where reports of the breach of human rights in the seafood industry have been documented can be found at the following link:

Additional relevant links are the following:

  • Work in Fishing Convention. Launched June 2007 (ILO 188). The UK working timetable is for ratification by the end of 2016. The convention will be a global labour standard to ensure fishers have minimum standards and decent conditions of work on board fishing vessels and sets responsibilities for owners, skippers and fishermen. This covers work on board; conditions of service; accommodation and food; occupational safety and health protection; medical care and social security. It applies to all fishers and fishing vessels engaged in commercial fishing operations. The convention will come into force 12 months after it has been ratified by 10 countries, including at least eight coastal states (as at May 2014 five countries have ratified).
  • ILO indicators of forced labour. 11 indicators
  • ILO Operational indicators of trafficking in human beings

IFFO has offered our support in the endeavour to abolish human trafficking, forced labour and exploitation of workers and is open to receiving solutions to this from all avenues. 

Date: 
Wednesday, July 30, 2014