Seafood community alliance urges the industry to prioritize the "human factor"

The Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions launches the 'The Guidance for Companies on Environmentally and Socially Responsible Seafood'.
The Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions represents more than 150 seafood enterprises.

The Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions represents more than 150 seafood enterprises.

Photo by Carlos Anguilera. Courtesy of the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions.

The Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions has launched 'The Guidance for Companies on Environmentally and Socially Responsible Seafood' to promote human rights and environmental safeguards across supply chains.

This set of guidelines, measures, and resources aims to alleviate and confront the allegations concerning forced labor in the seafood sector in India, China, and North Korea.

It also seems like one of the best moments as we are on the verge of much of the industry coming together on April 23rd in Barcelona for one of the world’s largest seafood industry events, the Seafood Expo Global 2024.

This initiative represents the first time that the 16-year-old Alliance asks supermarkets, restaurants, and other businesses to ensure fair wages, safe and humane working conditions, and equitable opportunities for workers.

Regarding this, Project Director for the Alliance Ryan Bigelow said: "The latest human and labor rights investigations confirm that the industry is facing a sea change. While progress is being made, it’s clear that it’s time for the industry to meet this issue with the urgency it deserves."

"Prioritizing human rights alongside conservation is not just the right thing to do; it’s the best thing companies can do to future-proof their businesses from consumer backlash and reputational damage," he assured.

A due diligence model and 100 actionable resources

Among the tools and checklists included in the guide, the due diligence model stands out. Companies will be able to consult it to identify, assess, and mitigate human rights and environmental risks related to their operations and supply chains based on globally accepted frameworks.

Another tool that promises to provide great utility is a set of up to 100 practical cases on companies' processes (such as Aldi and Pepsico) including sustainable seafood commitments and 45 real-world examples of how different kinds of businesses implement ocean, people, and communities protection measures.

The Alliance's goal

By 2030, the aim of the Alliance is that at least 75% of global, commercial seafood production should be "environmentally responsible or make verifiable improvements, with safeguards in place to ensure social responsibility." The Guidance should help with this.

According to Bigelow, it is important to highlight that the size of the company is not an obstacle to achieving the goal and, noted that 46% of the industry is advancing constantly.

"Companies of all sizes - from mass market retailers to family-owned sushi restaurants - have the power to apply pressure on suppliers, spur reforms, and create new markets, models, and supply chains that safeguard workers and the environment."

Leading industry experts, practitioners, and academics from organizations such as Fishwise, Seafood Watch, and New England Seafoods have collaborated in the development of the guidance.

The Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions

The Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions was founded in 2008 and represents more than 150 seafood enterprises like Bumble Bee and Nestle Purina, NGOs, and environmental and human rights experts across 30 countries.

The Alliance explains that the supply chains of the seafood industry imply complexity. Furthermore, due to operations taking place in countries like India and China, auditing firms have limited ability to carry out their job. All this can result in a vulnerable scenario regarding exploitation and labor abuses.

According to the Alliance, forced labor generated $236 billion in illegal profits annually and has undergone an increase from $64 billion in 2014. The European Union joined the US in banning products made with forced labor.

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