Free resource helps address social responsibility in the global supply chain

Published on
June 29, 2017

A new free resource launched by U.K. seafood authority Seafish, is set to help seafood companies around the world address social responsibility challenges in their supply chains.

Tools for Ethical Seafood Sourcing (TESS) is a comprehensive online signposting tool that directs users to a host of other resources that can be used to help understand, manage, and mitigate social risks in seafood supply chains. All the information is publicly available on external websites, and TESS takes users directly to the source. 

“We do not provide ratings or rankings of the information provided. The benefit of TESS is that it brings everything together in one place, and saves businesses both time and money in their efforts to understand the issues and be socially responsible,” said Libby Woodhatch, head of advocacy for Seafish.

Woodhatch said the aim of TESS is to help managers to better understand the “complex landscape” of labor issues in the global seafood supply chain.

“Many sources of information on ethical issues exist, from resources that help identify potential problem areas, through to international standards and initiatives that are working to address them, but they can be challenging to navigate and understand,” Woodhatch said. 

A main driver for TESS was a media campaign in the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper in 2014, which highlighted major issues in the Thai seafood sector. Seafish was asked by the U.K. industry to help provide support, and a debate began on what shape that could take.

“It became clear to us that the global seafood industry needed to collaborate to consolidate activities and information on how to address ethical issues across the supply chain. Seafish took the opportunity to become more active by bringing stakeholders together and opening the debate through an ethics common language group, which seeks to identify issues, share information, and profile U.K. and global initiatives,” Woodhatch said.

On the homepage of TESS, three main sections help users to find the information needed. 

The first section gives an overview of the issues facing the seafood sector and looks at why it is important for businesses to tackle them. A recommended reading section provides details and links to publications that offer greater detail. 

The second section provides a six-step process for businesses to follow, in order to tackle social issues in global supply chains. These are: Commit – making a public commitment to respect human rights; Assess – understanding modern slavery risks in the supply chain; Act – taking action to deal with the identified risks; Remedy – finding a solution to deal with victims of modern slavery; Monitor – monitoring progress; and Communicate – telling the world what has been done.

A comprehensive list of resources, specifically tailored to each step, is provided to give help and support to companies that commit to the process.

A search facility allows users to generate relevant results from the database. This includes general information, initiatives, standards, organizations and other resources relevant to tackling social issues. Region, sector, and type of record filters enable results to be tailored to individual requirements. New content is regularly added, and all links are checked weekly to ensure they remain active.

“We are keen to hear from anyone who has useful information to include in TESS, to ensure we keep the content up to date and relevant,” Seafish Head of Insight Michaela Archer said.

Archer says that TESS is already in wide use and has been praised by wholesalers, retailers and processors.

Barry Harland, head of continuous improvement and corporate social responsibility for Whitby Seafoods, said he is delighted with the new tool.

“The work that Seafish has done on ethical sourcing has made my job much simpler. I foresee TESS becoming an integral part of my role,” he said. 

Andy Hickman, responsible sourcing manager for seafood at Tesco, is also an avid user of TESS.

“Given the number and variety of initiatives that are addressing human rights issues and seafood, it is invaluable to have a simple one-stop resource that can support businesses in the risk assessment process, as well as identifying appropriate actions to take once risks have been identified. Having a resource such as TESS helps foster collaboration which is crucial as we move ahead in tackling these issues,” he said. 

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