The findings and recommendations from a three-year impact assessment to gauge the effectiveness of the Global Aquaculture Association's Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) program’s social and labor requirements have been released.
The study, initiated in 2018 and conducted by The Netherlands-based KIT Royal Tropical Institute, was intended to better understand how BAP standards are applied and how they impact the practices of farmers, processors, and buyers.
The assessment focused on Indonesia, Vietnam, and Chile, and included an analysis of audit results and interviews with employees throughout the seafood supply chain. Its recommendations will be used to further strengthen the BAP standards and improve compliance.
Included in the study’s findings were:
- Social and labor practices are continuously monitored and evolving in certified facilities, and most companies made major changes to comply with the BAP standards.
- There is increased attention to due diligence and ensuring compliance, especially through improved monitoring systems.
- Workers note clear improvements around well-being related to shifts and regulations on workers time; this alleviated stress for employees.
- In Vietnam, improved practices are believed to lead to higher staff retention levels and lower occurrence of accidents.
- BAP certification is seen as a long-term investment in economic sustainability and a way to demonstrate compliance with key legal frameworks.
- Certification did not necessarily lead to higher profitably directly, but did lead to expanded market access.
“The independent impact assessment of BAP’s social clauses is a milestone in understanding how audit-based certification can increasingly become a tool for social change,” Birgitte Poulsen, a member of the Global Aquaculture Alliance Standards Oversight Committee, said. “While certification may, in the past, have been mostly about compliance, we need to realize certification’s potential contributions to systemic changes that protect workers and prevent harmful and exploitative working conditions. I think this study provides great insights that are relevant beyond BAP and probably also beyond the seafood sector.”
The authors of the assessment provided 11 recommendations to strengthen the BAP standards, ranging from improving compliance to promoting sustainable seafood production and consumption.
“Consult secondary literature from relevant NGOs/ civil society, and ILO, or join communities of practice around living wage. If BAP wants to make significant change to improved income, it can use this literature to assess/provide benchmarks on appropriate wages. Given the sensitivity of the issue, this should be aligned with where each country is in the debate,” the report suggested regarding the implementation of social and labor standards.
It also recommended coordination with trade unions, civil society, and NGOs "to identify more effective mechanisms within and outside the working premises to report and act on grievances.”
“This should also include attention to issues beyond the gate (not picked up in this study). Include specific attention to how these are implemented at farm level as grievance mechanisms were less advanced,” the report said.