Human Rights at Sea today issues the consolidated and updated data sets behind the v1.0 8 February report “Does it do What it Says on the Tin?” as part of the NGO’s drive for greater accountability and human and labour rights protections across seafood fisheries and aquaculture certification standards and ratings.
Driven by consumer demand for greater assurance as to the sustainability of seafood products, the recent trend for voluntary certifications has accelerated.
For many worker-driven and worker-focused organisations across civil society and the union movement, the voluntary certifications approach is viewed as flawed at best and at worst, they require them to be ended.
There is an ongoing a worry concern in civil society that these seafood certifications increase the employer-employee power imbalance, lead to hidden migrant worker exploitation and are simply a marketing tool for commercial CSR and ESG reporting. Many would also point out that there is no legal liability for certification bodies or any independent regulation.
HRAS has taken a current position that with the significant number of existing and emerging certifications in the wider seafood sector globally and the reliance that consumers place on them, there is an urgent need to realistically assess them against international legal instruments.
Until a comprehensive independent review and transparent data is publicly and consistently available, there remains a lack of evidence as to certifcationscertifications validity in supporting worker protections.
Alongside the launch of the dedicated webpage as the source of live project information and data sources, the 8 February v1.0 report has today been updated to v1.1, having identified and actioned data improvements.
Noting the ongoing challenges to their existence at first instance, HRAS want to see certification standards rapidly improve their focus on human sustainability, and not just environmental sustainability. Transparency, accountability and effective remediation for affected workers, alongside workers’ voices, must be embedded in all standards if they are to continue to operate with any credibility.
Consumers want to know the seafood they consume is not harming the environment and that the workers involved in the supply chain are being treated fairly and are not being denied their fundamental human and labour rights protections.
As a result, HRAS has decided to make public the first set of data results. As an organisation committed to transparency, HRAS want to work with certification bodies to make sure their standards are giving consumers the assurance they want. All the certification bodies that we assess have a right of reply, and their comments will be reflected on the HRAS webpage.
The data is found on a dedicated web page https://www.humanrightsatsea.org/csrreview which requires individual registration to access the updates and downloads.
The web page will be a live document with regular updates. A follow-up report will be published in the summer of this year and again at six monthly intervals, showing the progress that certification bodies have made.
Aquaculture Stewardship Council
The scores for certification operated by ASC have been updated since the report was published. HRAS would like to recognise ASC’s comprehensive engagement with the NGO and its commitment to public transparency and accountability.
Chris Ninnes, ASC’s CEO, commented on the positive engagement of HRAS: “Once we had established that we shared a compelling and common objective to safeguard workers and local communities, the dialogue around this benchmark was very positive and constructive. We worked closely with HRAS and will continue to do so in the future to achieve these objectives and look forward to the many opportunities this will present.”
HRAS also welcomes the positive engagement of other certifiers standard setters, including the Consumer Goods Forum and the Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative.
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