Our Work in Seafood
Verité’s Work in the Seafood Sector
Mechanization of Thai Purse Seiners: A business case study to improve working and living conditions on fishing vessels
Seafood Industry Compliance Tools (opens Responsible Sourcing Tool website)
Recruitment Practices and Migrant Labor Conditions in Nestlé’s Thai Shrimp Supply Chain (2015)
Commodity Atlas: Fish
The fishing and aquaculture sector is currently one of the world’s fastest growing sectors, with more than 58 million men, women and children involved in fishing and aquaculture globally, according to a 2014 UN FAO report. With the rapid expansion of the sector has come an increase in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, a practice that heightens the likelihood of over-fishing and increases risks of labor abuses, as vessels undertake longer and longer voyages in order to find fish, trapping their crews on board for longer and longer periods of time. Forced labor, child labor, and human trafficking of fishers sold into slavery on vessels have been widely reported.
Verité is working to promote ethical labor practice in the seafood sector through advocacy and research that sheds further light on the problem, and through development of resources and approaches that help governments and companies build practical, sustainable solutions.
The resources listed on this page provide an overview of the risks of labor abuse associated with fishing and seafood production, and present Verité original research on forced labor in shrimp and fish production in Southeast Asia.
What Should Companies Do?
The first step companies can take is to trace the seafood in their supply chain back to its origins. Labor and human rights abuses are linked to both the extraction and processing of fish, so scrutiny of supply chains is necessary at every step in seafood production. Corporate efforts to understand and monitor the environmental implications of their suppliers’ fishing practice should be extended to incorporate efforts to monitor for possible human rights implications as well. Once companies achieve visibility into their supply chains, they should identify specific risks they may face, and improve management systems and business practices to better protect workers from potential abuses. Companies can also participate in ongoing capacity building efforts, public policy advocacy and stakeholder dialogue.
What is Verité Doing?
Verité consults with a wide range of sector stakeholders, including multi-national brands, suppliers, governments and civil society representatives, helping them understand and address labor and human rights problems in the industry. We seek to help retailers, brands and buyers, traders, fish producers, and others that wish to eliminate the risk of labor abuse and lead the ﬁeld in ethical seafood supply through a series of key steps, beginning with understanding and analysis, and ending with direct action to resolve problems. We are currently working with American seafood companies (retailers, importers, restaurants) to develop a model global compliance plan around trafficking and are piloting efforts in hot spots to determine good practices in compliance areas such as auditing, training, systems building, and research.
Articles & Papers
International exposés of labor conditions on Thai fishing vessels have long identified a vessel’s physical structure as an inherent driver of labor risk in the industry. These findings led Nestlé and Verité to collaborate on a project exploring how Thai fishing vessels might be modified to enable long-term improvements for both the workers and vessel owners. Watch video and read case study >
Seeking to better understand the risks of forced labor and human trafficking in the Thai seafood industry, Nestlé contracted Verité to conduct a focused investigation of six production sites in Thailand—three shrimp farms, two ports of origin, and one docked fishing boat.
Labor abuses are not limited to the “at sea” segments of seafood supply chains. Abuses have been documented in unloading and sorting dock and port work, processing of feed and packaging, and on fish farms as well.
An overview of the sector’s risk factors, including hazardous/undesirable work, a vulnerable, easily replaced, and/or low-skilled workforce and the prevalence of migrant workers.
While much attention has been paid to the environmental and economic aspects of the Philippines tuna sector, little has been paid to labor conditions, and even less to specific indicators of forced labor. This report sheds light on the presence of these issues.
While the shrimp sector has been promoted as a needed source of employment, previous research has tied the shrimp sector to labor, environmental, and human rights abuses. This report explores what few others have: the indicators of forced labor.
Fishing plays a large role in the Indonesian economy; over 6.2 million people are involved in fishing activities in there. Hazardous working conditions, coercive pay structures, and harassment are just some of the labor rights violations that were discovered and reported here.
The Philippines has been a source of male workers for almost all parts of the world, particularly the Middle East, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, North America, and Europe. Certain workforce mechanisms and policies in these developed countries exploit the vulnerabilities of these men. Working conditions combined with the Filipino workers’ significant lack of education on relevant topics, results in migrant workers falling prey to unscrupulous employers and human traffickers.
Responsible Sourcing Tool
With support from the U.S. Department of State Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons,
Verité has developed a suite of tools that specifically provide guidance
and assistance to companies with seafood components of their supply chains.
Also from the Responsible Sourcing Tool: Visual Risk in the Fishing and Aquaculture Industry
Verité boosts critical competencies at all levels of the supply chain with training programs that focus on the root causes of labor abuses and impart the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to resolve these abuses. Contact us to learn more.