We’re implementing a comprehensive, systematic approach grounded in scientific guidance and complemented by innovative tools to combat IUU fishing and modern slavery. This involves conducting risk assessments of our supply chains, identifying high-risk areas, and engaging in proactive initiatives to mitigate these risks. We’ve codeveloped a Tool Kit, which includes policy documents, audit protocols, and advanced traceability mechanisms.
We also engage in external reporting for accountability and transparency, and actively engage with governments, civil society, and other stakeholders to influence policy changes and inspire broader industry change.
Sustainable Development Goal 14: conserve and sustainable use use of the oceans, seas and marine resources
SeaBOS members are collectively battling IUU fishing and modern slavery with actions to improve transparency of supply chains and activities, policies and risk analyses of own operations and supply chains. We are working with other industry initiatives to call for combined government and industry actions to strengthen regulations, including calling on governments to implement the Port State Measures Agreement and associated transparency measures. Separately, we have written to the World Trade Organisation to recommend removal of harmful subsidies from seafood production.
Thai Union has launched rigorous audit programs and a Vessel Improvement Program and Code of Conduct (VCoC) with regular compliance monitoring. They aim to ensure 100% on-the-water monitoring by 2025, partnering with The Nature Conservancy.
Cargill, with initial focus on supply chains to Norway and Scotland, carries out risk assessments on suppliers using the US State Department TIP report and ASC Country Risk Score Cards. Intensive Human Rights Impact Assessments are being carried out on supply chains identified as higher risk, so appropriate mitigations can be implemented if needed. One example is with Partner Africa in Mauritania and Senegal, through work with the Global Roundtable on Marine Ingredients.
Companies like Skretting, Nissui, Maruha Nichiro, and Kyokuyo are leveraging tools such as EcoVadis, SeaBOS toolkit, and supplier surveys to monitor risks. Dongwon adheres to guidelines from NGOs and international organizations and participates in the Fishery Improvement Project (FIP).
Cermaq enforces its code of conduct, disallowing forced, bonded, or child labor and monitors fishmeal and fish oil origins to ensure IUU compliance. CP Foods, has an extensive Human Rights Due Diligence Process, working closely with the Labour Protection Network Foundation (LPN) to ensure labor rights and recruitment transparency. Cumulatively, SeaBOS members are proud to be supporting a more transparent and humane seafood industry.
In 2023, despite major efforts during the last two decades in national, regional, and global institutions, among corporations and across governments, modern slavery and IUU fishing remain endemic in the seafood industry. The International Labour Organization along with the Walk Free Foundation and International Organization for Migration estimated that at least 128,000 fishers remain under forced labor conditions aboard fishing vessels. Research has highlighted considerable overlap in patterns of risk for modern slavery and IUU fishing in the seafood industry (see Figure), although the actions needed to address them will differ. The livelihoods, well-being and economic impacts of IUU fishing are devastating for coastal communities and nations, with economic losses in hotspots of IUU fishing such as West Africa estimated at up to USD 9.4 billion annually.
Risk maps for (a) labor abuse and…
(b) IUU fishing at port.
Selig et al. 2022, licensed under CC BY-4.0
Modern slavery and IUU fishing represent unacceptable practices for any seafood company. SeaBOS members have worked to assess IUU fishing and modern slavery risks across their operations and to improve traceability in their supply chains, with support from the science team. They have also advocated for government action on the Port State Measures Agreement, which includes efforts to eliminate IUU fishing. These steps are important, but not sufficient. Companies have a responsibility to ensure they have adequate policies, traceability schemes, auditing processes and mitigation approaches for addressing IUU fishing. They also need to engage directly with fisheries workers to develop monitoring and report mechanisms and design solutions to address modern slavery. They can also advocate for closing loopholes in national regulatory frameworks that fail to protect migrant fisheries workers. For both modern slavery and IUU fishing, they can share risk assessment frameworks and approaches and communicate openly how they will address known risks, and directly engage with key governments and actors to collaborate on addressing them.
Public reporting in accordance with the GRI standards has a requirement in SeaBOS since 2020 based on conducted materiality assessments. Some SeaBOS companies are also reporting through the Ocean Disclosure Project (ODP) and making their marine products portfolio publicly available. Four companies have been engaging with GDST to implement traceability solutions.
SeaBOS has developed a Proof of Concept
(PoC) to transform the level of transparency aboard commercial fishing vessels, using facial recognition software and deck cameras to identify e.g. species and catch volume, with automatic upload to a blockchain platform. The PoC illustrated that it is possible to execute this level of traceability on fishing vessels.
SeaBOS has publicly supported the removal of harmful fishing subsidies, a key barrier for reducing IUU fishing. In addition, we have published a joint statement on traceability and Port State Measures to support healthy marine ecosystems and fisheries.
Contributing to the elimination of IUU fishing and forced labour in seafood production, and mitigating the impacts on endangered species.
Healthy ocean ecosystems and rich biodiversity are vital components of ocean stewardship. This Task Force focuses on developing practices that minimize impacts of seafood production on endangered species, and to develop solutions that enhance marine ecosystems.
To work with governments towards sustainable seafood production, as well as mechanisms to reduce antibiotics in aquaculture.
To identify global solutions to the impacts of climate change on sustainable seafood production, as well as the ability of seafood production for humanity, along with a healthy ocean, to play a role in the mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change impacts.