Bali Seafood International introduces worker empowerment initiative

North Atlantic, Inc. and its subsidiary, Bali Seafood International (BSI), have introduced a worker empowerment initiative designed to improve the social responsibility of its seafood sourcing.

North Atlantic was founded with sustainability as a core principle of its business approach, owner Jerry Knecht said in a recent SeafoodSource interview. The Workplace Agreements for Ethical Seafood (WAES) initiative, announced during a workshop on 18 March at Seafood Expo North America in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A., furthers the company’s existing efforts “towards commercially-driven practices that advance sustainability and social responsibility,” he said.

The WAES initiative includes the use of workplace agreements both with its fishermen and processing workers at its new plant in Santong, Sumbawa, Indonesia. These agreements have been negotiated and facilitated by the Indonesian Seafarers Union (Kesatuan Pelaut Indonesia), the company said.  The company’s approach incorporates components of the Certification and Ratings Collaboration’s Framework for Social Responsibility in the Seafood Sector, which include the three elements of social contracts deemed essential by the Monterey Framework (protecting human rights, dignity and access to resources/ensuring equality and equitable opportunity to benefit, and improving food and livelihood security).

“By supporting worker-driven agreements and initiatives, WAES promotes real, on-the-ground labor improvements and represents an expansion of what corporate social responsibility might look like,” Bali Seafood International said in a press release.

The move represents “innovation beyond the current social audit approach as the primary means of understanding working conditions in seafood supply chains,” the company said.

“Born from NAI/BSI’s recognition of the limitations of social audit schemes – which are periodic, may not fit well with the nuances of fisheries supply chains, and can be expensive for small- and medium-sized suppliers – WAES will instead use a more worker-driven approach to improve the responsibility of global seafood sourcing,” it said. “Worker-driven concepts, such as workplace agreements, are ongoing, address workers directly, and, coupled with a union framework, allow employees to voice concerns as they arise and better uncover worker grievances.”

New initiatives adopted by Bali Seafood International include “Pay for Grade” system, which is designed to reward fishers who bring in the best-quality fish and who refrain from catching immature and brood stock, and Fishery Community Resource Centers, which ties together a mini-processing plant, ice production facilities, fisheries management center, education center, gear store, and a micro-financing office. The education centers offer coaching on maximizing fishing effort, catch monitor efforts and operational decision-making.

“As we continue our efforts towards commercially-driven managed fisheries and sustainability, we are encouraged by the opportunity to clearly identify what we are doing to also advance worker and supplier welfare as part of that effort,” Knecht said in the release. 

BSI’s Sumbawa facility will serve as the company’s first pilot of WAES, with plans for additional expansion of the program in 2020, he said.


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