New “Slavery Risk Tool” identifies high-risk fisheries

Published on
February 2, 2018

Seafood Watch’s new Seafood Slavery Risk Tool aims to help retail and foodservice buyers identify fisheries at high risk of human trafficking, forced labor, and child labor.

The tool, already utilized by large U.S. restaurant chain The Cheesecake Factory, rates fisheries as critical, high, moderate, or low risk, based on the likelihood that forced labor, human trafficking, or hazardous child labor is occurring on fishing boats in a specific fishery.

Fisheries at “critical” risk include giant scallops and queen scallops from the United Kingdom and Atlantic bluefin tuna from Taiwan. The U.K. scallop fishery is rated critical, “based on multiple sources documenting forced labor occurring on board U.K.-registered scallop vessels,” the Slavery Risk Tool said. “There is also evidence to suggest that forced labor and human trafficking occurs in other U.K. fisheries.”

Fisheries at “high risk” include albacore tuna from Japan, fishmeal from Thailand, the Argentine Patagonian toothfish fishery, and swordfish from Taiwan.

“Evidence of forced labor, human trafficking, or hazardous child labor in the country’s fishing industry was not found,” the Slavery Risk Tool said about Japan’s albacore tuna fishery. “However, Japan does not meet the Seafood Slavery Risk Tool’s country criteria.” 

Concerning Japan, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch tool said legislation concerning forced labor in the fishery is not enforced effectively, and dinged Japan for not having ratified the ILO Convention 105 on Forced Labor.

Patagonian toothfish from Chile and France, meanwhile, carry a “low” risk of slavery.

Megan Bloomer, director of sustainability for The Cheesecake Factory, a U.S.-based quick-service restaurant chain, said her company had decided to use the tool.

 ”Our sustainable sourcing policy is built on transparency in our supply chain and respect for human rights, including those of the farmers and fisheries growing and harvesting the products we source," Bloomer said. 

The Slavery Risk Tool, which is free to download, encourages businesses to engage directly with suppliers to correct abuses, according to Seafood Watch.

“The new Risk Tool developed by Seafood Watch and our partners will give major businesses insight into the possibility of human rights abuses in their supply chains,” Monterey Bay Aquarium Executive Director Julie Packard said. “They can then work with suppliers to correct problems, toward the goal of achieving a seafood supply that's sustainable for both the ocean and the people whose livelihoods depend on fishing and seafood processing jobs."

The Seafood Slavery Risk Tool was originally created with Liberty Asia, Seafish and the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP). It is now jointly run by the aquarium with Liberty Asia and SFP.

The ratings are derived from “credible, publicly available sources,” including reports by U.S. government agencies, the European Union, universities, and NGOs.

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