MONTEREY, Calif., Feb. 1, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch® program – already the global standard for environmentally responsible seafood – today launches the Seafood Slavery Risk Tool, the first solution of its kind to help businesses assess the potential risk of forced labor, human trafficking, and hazardous child labor in fisheries. The tool is available at seafoodslaveryrisk.org.
The Seafood Slavery Risk Tool – originally created with Liberty Asia, Seafish and the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) and now jointly run by the aquarium with Liberty Asia and SFP – produces a rating indicating the likelihood that human trafficking, forced labor and hazardous child labor are occurring on fishing boats in a specific fishery. Businesses can use the tool to identify seafood sourced from fisheries that have these issues and take steps to address them.
"Understanding the environmental impact of fishing and aquaculture is key to seafood sustainability," said Monterey Bay Aquarium Executive Director Julie Packard. "The working conditions of the people who produce our seafood are equally important. The new Risk Tool developed by Seafood Watch and our partners will give major businesses insight into the possibility of human rights abuses in their supply chains. They can then work with suppliers to correct problems, toward the goal of achieving a seafood supply that's sustainable for both the ocean and the people whose livelihoods depend on fishing and seafood processing jobs."
Multiple reports from the Associated Press, The New York Times and The Guardian raised public awareness about the scope of human rights abuses in the global seafood supply chain, but there were no readily-available resources businesses could use to begin solving them. Seafood Watch and its partners developed the Seafood Slavery Risk Tool in response to conversations with its business partners and requests for support from the seafood and financial industries.
The tool is a means for businesses to identify potentially high-risk fisheries in their supply chains. It also encourages businesses to engage directly with suppliers to correct abuses. As a corporate partner of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated sees this tool as the first of many, filling a gap in the seafood supply chain with respect to transparency in sourcing.
"Our sustainable sourcing policy is built on transparency in our supply chain and respect for human rights, including those of the farmers and fisheries growing and harvesting the products we source," said Megan Bloomer, Director of Sustainability for The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated. "This tool is a welcome addition to the arsenal we use to proactively identify and mitigate potential risks."
Available at no cost to interested businesses, the Seafood Slavery Risk Tool rates the likelihood that forced labor, human trafficking or hazardous child labor is occurring on fishing boats in a specific fishery. A fishery could be rated as critical, high, moderate, or low risk for these human rights abuses.
The ratings are derived from credible, publicly available sources, including reports by authoritative institutions (e.g., U.S. government agencies, the European Union and the United Nations) and civil society organizations (universities, NGOs and media outlets). All these data are available in the public domain.
The Risk Tool was developed over the course of two years, in a process that included extensive peer review by businesses and human rights organizations, including the International Labour Organization, the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. State Department, Fair Trade USA, FishWise, Winrock, Greenpeace, Slave Free Seas, USAID, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"Human rights abuses in the seafood industry are an endemic and ongoing problem," said Sustainable Fisheries Partnership CEO and founder Jim Cannon. "We're proud to be involved with the development of what we believe will be a valuable tool for the industry to help prevent these kinds of abuses from occurring."
The Seafood Slavery Risk Tool complements Seafood Watch's approximately 1,100 science-based seafood recommendations, which focus largely on the impact of fishing and fish farming on the health of ocean ecosystems. Using these resources in combination, businesses can address both environmental issues and human rights abuses associated with the seafood supply chain.
About Liberty Asia Liberty Asia is a global organization that aims to prevent human trafficking through legal advocacy, technological interventions, and strategic collaborations with NGOs, corporations, and financial institutions in Southeast Asia. More information at www.libertyasia.org.
About the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Founded in 2006, the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to rebuilding depleted fish stocks and reducing the environmental and social impacts of fishing and fish farming worldwide by engaging stakeholders (communities, NGOs, government, etc.) and seafood businesses in every part of the supply chain. The organization works to improve fisheries through fishery improvement projects (FIPs) and aquaculture improvement projects (AIPs), which are multi-stakeholder bodies that seek to advance the sustainability of fishing and fish farming operations. SFP also supports Supply Chain Roundtables that allow seafood suppliers to work in a pre-competitive environment to promote improvement throughout the supply chain. SFP plans to link profiles in their FishSource database to the Risk Tool. More information at www.sustainablefish.org.
About the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program is part of the Aquarium's comprehensive effort to address the sustainability of global fisheries and aquaculture, through policy initiatives, scientific research, business partnerships and consumer engagement. Seafood Watch empowers consumers and businesses to choose seafood that's fished or farmed using responsible methods that protect sea life and habitats, now and for future generations. Seafood Watch's widely recognized and respected science-based recommendations, indicating which seafood items are Best Choices or Good Alternatives, and which ones to Avoid, are used by many organizations around the world. They are available in its free app and at seafoodwatch.org.