Seafood industry partnerships push for improved fisher safety

The Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship (SeaBOS), the Global Tuna Alliance (GTA), the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST), Sea Pact, and the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) have released a joint statement calling for improvements to improve the safety of the global fishing industry.

Together, the five groups include as members over 150 companies from across the seafood supply chain.

The Pew Charitable Trusts, in conjunction with the Fish Safety Foundation, recently released new research estimating global fisher mortality rates to be three or four times higher than seen in previous assessments. The previous research by the International Labor Organization (ILO) in 1999 and subsequently by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) found fisher deaths to be around 24,000 and 32,000, respectively, or 65 and 87 deaths per day.

“Fishing is and always has been a dangerous occupation, but we can do better to reduce the current rate of fatal incidents. We must all work together to improve fisher safety and reduce the number of lives lost at sea," GSSI Executive Director Herman Wisse said "We have delivered a statement to the FAO Committee on Fisheries this week on behalf of multiple industry companies to support the development of a global mechanism to report fatalities at sea.  That, in turn, will help understand the drivers behind the dangers and design solutions to improve safety at-sea."

In its letter, the coalition called for a global mechanism for reporting fatalities, as well as targeted and effective, data-backed safety initiatives to make fishing safer. The collaboration aims to support efforts including continued and consistent data collection, analysis of fatalities in the industry, with the goal of better understanding the drivers behind the high death rates. It also called for actions to reduce the risk of future incidents that threaten the well-being of fishers globally.

“As a coalition of seafood entities, we are committed to ensuring that the seafood we catch, grow, buy, and sell is responsibly produced without activities such as IUU fishing or modern slavery. As part of these commitments, we recognize that IUU fishing and modern slavery expose fishers to unsafe and harmful working conditions," the groups said in their statement. "We have aligned with FAO and the Ocean Panel, along with others, to advocate for the ratification and effective implementation of FAO Port State Measures Agreement and devised other measures to address IUU fishing and modern slavery, which will help to improve fishers’ safety. Building on the existing national reporting systems already in place, we support the development of a global mechanism throughout the seafood sector that can establish a data collection scheme and repository on global fisher mortality incidents to help with analyses of loss of life in the fishing industry, leading to improved safety initiative development and implementation.”

Photo courtesy of Nick Markantonis/Shutterstock 


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