Seafood Watch changes Australian toothfish slavery rating

Published on
February 28, 2018

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch switched its Slavery Risk Tool rating on the Australian toothfish industry from “high risk” of slavery to “low risk.”

Seafood Watch revised its earlier ratings following input from Seafood Industry Australia, Australian toothfish industry members, and others. 

“Slavery is clearly not acceptable in Australia, under any circumstances. Australian fisheries are regarded internationally as amongst the best-managed in the world, with the lowest risk of any slavery. The initial rating by Monterey Bay just didn’t make sense,” said David Carter, CEO of Austral Fisheries, a major toothfish fishing industry participant. “We commend Monterey Bay Aquarium for taking the time to work with us, to better understand Australian legislation, and to ensure their model was corrected in a prompt and accurate fashion.”

Seafood Watch changed its results once it was made aware of existing Australian legislation to ensure there is no forced labor, human trafficking, or hazardous child labor allowed on Australian toothfish fishing vessels, nor in the Australian fishing industry more broadly, according to a statement from Austral Fisheries. 

“The previous rating clearly indicated a misunderstanding of our legislation. The Australian seafood industry, and specifically the Australian toothfish industry, supports the initiatives of government to encourage the eradication of slavery globally,” said Jane Lovell, CEO of Seafood Industry Australia, the country’s industry trade group. “The very idea of slavery in any industry in this day and age is abhorrent. Seafood Industry Australia is committed to ensuring our country’s intolerance to and prohibition of modern day slavery is understood internationally."

After its initial release, the Slavery Risk Tool also received criticism from seafood groups in the United Kingdom, after it provided a “critical risk” rating of giant scallops and queen scallops from the U.K.

The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation; various Australian government departments including the Department of Agriculture, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, and the National Fisheries Institute in the United States also provided input that helped Seafood Watch change its decision, according to Carter.

Contributing Editor



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