As more consumers demand sustainable seafood, businesses are starting to pay attention to where and how their seafood is sourced. Many businesses have taken steps to address the environmental sustainability of their seafood supply chains, but as several recent media stories have highlighted, those same companies may also have risks of human rights abuses, including modern-day slavery, in their supply chains. In fact, issues of environmental and social sustainability in the seafood sector are often closely linked: as vessels undertake longer and longer voyages in order to find fish in overfished ecosystems, crews are trapped on board vessels for longer periods of time, heightening their vulnerability to abuse.
Much of the recent media attention has focused on conditions once workers are on board fishing vessels or employed in processing plants. Verité’s research in a variety of geographic contexts—ranging from Latin America to Southeast Asia—has focused on identifying the root causes that lead to abuses in such contexts. In some cases, Verité has identified forced labor linked to recruitment practices or worker debt. In others, Verité has examined structural factors such as migration, gender, land use, and lack of alternative livelihoods.
Because seafood supply chains—which span practices ranging from wild capture, to aquaculture, to fish processing—tend to be quite complex, most companies lack the visibility necessary to identify their own risk factors and take appropriate action to prevent trafficking and other labor abuses.
Verité’s research can give companies and other stakeholders insight into this often murky sector. Please visit our new page on Verité’s fishing sector initiatives to read more about Our Work in Seafood.