GAA prohibits shrimp outsourcing in 2016 to counter labor abuse

Published on
December 15, 2015

Following the release of the latest Associated Press investigative report detailing forced and child labor in Thailand on Monday, the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) third-party certification program has decided to take a firm stand against labor abuses in seafood supply chains. Effective 1 January 2016, BAP-certified processing plants will be prohibited from outsourcing the processing of shrimp to third-party entities, program representatives said.

The choice to bar the outsourcing of shrimp processing duties came in light of the AP’s discovery of the forced and child labor abuses underway along the shrimp supply chain, mainly in Thailand’s peeling and heading “sheds” – which are seasonal and operate independently without registration or license, the GAA noted. Under the new BAP parameters, licensed facilities that operate as part of a larger processing plant will not be included in the prohibition, the certification body confirmed.

“Our experience over many years with farmed shrimp is that most of the peeling and heading of shrimp is conducted at well run processing facilities, and it is only during infrequent periods of peak supply from farms that outsourcing takes place. The current BAP processing plant standards require facilities that outsource their peeling or heading operations to maintain appropriate controls over the environmental, social and food-safety practices of those outsourced operations. But obviously it would be far better if these processing steps were conducted in-house,” said GAA Executive Director Wally Stevens.

“Accordingly, we will prohibit BAP-certified facilities from outsourcing their peeling and heading operations, effective Jan. 1, 2016,” Stevens added.

Any allegation of non-compliance could potentially trigger an unannounced audit in addition to routine annual audits, as GAA treats allegations of child and forced labor with the utmost seriousness, said alliance representatives.

The decision reflects GAA’s commitment to social justice, one of the pillars of its responsible aquaculture program; all BAP-certified processing plants, farms, hatcheries and feed mills are required to meet standards for adequate wages, a safe and healthy working environment and prevention of child labor and forced labor, the organization reiterated.

“The prevention of child labor and forced labor can only be accomplished with the cooperation of all stakeholders — industry, the marketplace, government and non-governmental players promoting labor rights. Third-party certification programs like BAP are a key component of the solution. But the eradication of child labor and forced labor will not be achieved without the consistent enforcement of labor laws by local officials,” GAA concluded.

Find more industry reactions to the AP forced labor report here: Retailers and restaurants respond to latest AP slave labor report

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