Enslaved your seafood? The new database helps retailers fight abuse.


Enslaved your seafood? The new database helps retailers fight abuse.

The seafood watch program at the monterey bay aquarium, known for its red, yellow and green sustainable seafood ratings plans, will unveil its first seafood collection on Thursday. This is a database designed to help companies seafood buyers assess the risk of forced labor, human trafficking, and dangerous child labor in seafood.

Record for the first time in the global media that a few years later, the tool was followed by a new report, the report confirms that forced labor and human rights abuses remain in Thailand’s fishing industry.

Human rights watch’s 134-page report shows that the dire situation is continuing. Although the government promised to crack down on countries such as Burma and Cambodia from abuse suffered by most immigrants – although these countries from Thai seafood export pressure of the United States and European countries. (Thailand is the world’s fourth largest exporter of products).

For retailers and seafood importers in the United States, it is very difficult to prove slavery in the supply chain. Fishing off the coast is often out of sight, and the exploitation and abuse of boats comes from very complex social and economic dynamics.

“Companies don’t know how to solve problems,” says Sara McDonald, project manager at Slavic Risk Tool.

The new seafood watch database took two years to design, assigning the risk ratings of slavery to specific fisheries and working with free Asia and sustainable fisheries partnerships. Like the seafood watch’s color-coded rating, the seafood slavery risk tool aims to simplify it – a set of criteria that determine whether a fishery can achieve critical, high, medium or low risk ratings.

For example, the “critical risk” rating means that reliable evidence of forced Labour or child Labour is found in the fishery itself. The Taiwanese fleet’s long-finned tuna, skip fish and yellowfin tuna have received significant risk ratings. “Low-risk” fisheries, such as Chile’s patagonian toothfish (also known as Chilean sea bass), have good regulatory protection and enforcement, and there is no evidence of industry abuse.

Until recently, most of the discussion about sustainable seafood was about the environment. Overfishing, mangrove destruction, pollution and illegal fishing determine whether a seafood product is considered to be enjoyed or avoided.

But, when reports surfaced in 2014 and 2014, through forced labor to harvest or processed seafood into wal-mart, kroger, sepher) of major U.S. retailers, such as supply chain and Red never restaurant supply chain, such as business to make a public commitment and including hope to solve the problem quickly supplier guidelines to use the language more. Delivering on these promises, however, has proved difficult. Traceability is not enough. So far, retailers have few tools to make it easier to identify which fisheries are actually at high risk of human rights violations.

This is the lament of seafood watch and others.

“These companies know their supply chains are not transparent, they were obviously very embarrassed, felt ashamed because was called out,” focus on preventing human trafficking ngos Liberty founder of Asia, Duncan Jepson says. He added that the motivation for companies to use the new seafood watch tool was obvious. “From our point of view, the question is, do you want to be involved or exposed to people who are making money from these types of environments?”

Maisie Ganzler is the chief strategy and brand officer of BonAppetit management, which is responsible for the supply chain and procurement standards of food service companies. She says it is hard for any company to ensure that the products it buys are produced without enslavement. Distance, language and cultural barriers, and the fact that seafood has changed hands over and over again – all make the problem more difficult. She said the country’s original country labeling system marked the location of canned tuna, but did not capture the location of the tuna, which also marked the chaos in the waters.

“Then you have a high rate of fraud, I’m not talking about species fraud,” says Ganzler. “If you’re willing to enslave another person, or get a worker to overwork, would you be willing to fake the files that come with the fish? Perhaps these are the most hidden problems in the most remote parts of the world. “.

McDonald’s, the seafood watch, said the data behind the new risk tools came from reliable government and media coverage of known infringements. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing incidents; The number of days the fishing boat is at sea; And more. The tool also takes into account the fact that there is evidence of forced labor, human trafficking and child labor in other sectors of the country, such as forestry, agriculture and aquaculture. This, she says, also increases the likelihood that these abuses could occur in fisheries.

Workers process shrimp at a factory in Thailand in 2009.

Unlike the aquarium’s seafood watch app, the new seafood slavery risk tool does not advise retailers to buy another. Instead, “we say that by working with suppliers to change their practices, stay, participate and create industry change,” says McDonald. “With the seafood watch, and what we will buy and what not to buy puts forward many Suggestions, but there is a big different with human rights violations, if you resist or avoid or stop buying, it will it to the ground. You can’t resist, you have to stay in the sun, this is the only way to change the situation. ”

But many retailers have begun to talk openly about the issue of slavery in the seafood industry, and it is not clear how they will address these issues with their customers. Kroger, Safeway, Whole Foods, hy-vee, wal-mart and red lobster didn’t respond or deny our request for an interview with this story.

“Ocean Outcomes chief executive dick Jones said:” retailers will not go out to talk about the fact that labor rights problems existing in the supply chain, but retailers are still involved in is very important and continue to participate in “a commitment to improve the fisheries and fish farms in northeast Asia international ngos. He likens it to a routine test by a retailer of e. coli in ground beef. “They don’t tell their clients they’re at risk, they just do it because it’s the right thing to do,” he said.

Other groups are also developing tools to help companies avoid human rights abuses in the supply chain. The risk template for slavery and trafficking is an open source project by the social responsibility alliance, which aims to help companies build a socially responsible supply chain. The work safety screen is developed by the sustainable development incubator, specifically for seafood.

“The reality is that no company is 100% sure that there is no slavery in the supply chain,” says Ganzler. “All companies need to work with the government to solve this problem, which is really a problem for the government to take action.”


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