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Not Just Fish: World Seafood Congress Features Social Elements of the Industry

Created on Tuesday, 24 October 2017

By Jen Cole, Project Manager

In September 2017, I traveled to Iceland to speak about social responsibility at the 2017 World Seafood Congress. Each morning on my way to the Harpa – the site of the conference – I passed the Reykjavik old harbor and the Maritime Museum. My walk, and the historic stops along the way, reminded me of the deep connection between the Icelandic people and the seafood they consume. The World Seafood Congress made this connection apparent by focusing on the people that contribute to the seafood industry, starting with Iceland.

The Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center

To open the conference, Sveinn Margeirsson—CEO of the Icelandic food and biotech research and development organization Matís—spoke of his family history of fishing in Iceland and the importance of the connection between an island community and its resources. This theme was carried forward beyond just the Icelandic participants. Carey Bonnell, former president of the International Association of Fish Inspectors (IAFI), spoke of his own family history during a session for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Bonnell grew up in a fishing community on Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula in a multi-generational fishing family. After the collapse of the Northern Cod fishery, when his community and family’s livelihood changed irrevocably, his family told him to get an education. Bonnell’s response? “I studied fish.”

At the World Seafood Congress, it was common to see participants who chose to study fisheries because of the natural resources’ importance for people. In addition to the main conference events, the United Nations’ Fisheries Training Program – which is based in Reykjavik—held its twenty-year anniversary. The program aims to provide seafood stakeholders with post-graduate training that they can then take back and apply within their communities. Indeed, over the course of the past two decades, 347 fellows from 53 countries have received applied post-graduate training from the program.[1] The skills that participants gain include fisheries policy and planning, resource (stock) assessments, fish handling and processing, fishing technology, sustainable aquaculture, and the management of fishing companies.

Jen Cole presenting Social Responsibility Considerations for Companies at the 2017 World Seafood Congress

In my own presentation, which focused on social responsibility considerations for companies, the human aspect of sustainability was the primary focus. Without transparent, legal, verifiable practices, the workers in seafood supply chains – fishing, processing, and beyond – may be more vulnerable to human rights abuses in the workplace. Companies, along with governments, NGOs, and other stakeholders, play a major role in ensuring that global supply chains follow legal requirements and provide workers with the appropriate protections. Without these protections, the abuses documented by the Associated Press, The Guardian, and The New York Times can occur with impunity.

While labor violations in the seafood industry continue to be documented, many efforts are underway to reduce these abuses. In particular, stakeholders are continuing to work to define sustainability more holistically. To support UN Sustainable Development Goal 14, which focuses on ocean conservation and sustainable resource usage, fishing companies like supplier North Atlantic Inc. and its subsidiary Bali Seafood International created their own voluntary commitments regarding environmental and socially sustainable fisheries management.[2] In addition, Conservation International led the development of a Voluntary Commitment for Social Responsibility in Global Fisheries and Aquaculture which FishWise, other NGOs, and seafood businesses like Albertsons Companies and Hy-Vee all signed onto. The Voluntary Commitment presents an opportunity for the sector to recognize that the wellbeing of people and the health of the oceans are interdependent. After a week in Iceland at the World Seafood Congress, where I met a global community of seafood sustainability advocates, I could not agree more.

Solfar (sun voyager) sculpture, based in Reykjavik

[1] http://www.unuftp.is/en/about-us-frontpage/frettir/celebrating-with-former-fellows

[2] https://www.undercurrentnews.com/2017/05/16/north-atlantic-commits-to-un-sustainable-development-goals/

Status of IUU Nations Carded by European Commission

Created on Monday, 23 October 2017

As part of FishWise’s ongoing efforts to track news related to illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, we are closely monitoring updates to the European Commission’s IUU watch list.

The European Commission (EC) issues yellow cards and red cards to nations that have not taken sufficient action to control IUU activity in their waters or by their flagged vessels. Yellow cards serve as a formal warning to countries that the Commission wants to see time-bound improvement in their anti-IUU governance, while a red card can include economic sanctions and trade measures. Countries that have been yellow carded have six months to show improved structural and legal reforms to their fisheries management, monitoring, and enforcement systems. If the EC decides a country has made insufficient progress after six months, the country will be given a red card and potentially banned from importing fishery products into the European Union.

Nations with red cards:

  • Cambodia
  • Comoros
  • Saint Vincent & Grenadines

 

Nations with yellow cards:

  • Kiribati
  • Liberia
  • Saint Kitts & Nevis
  • Sierra Leone
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Trinidad and Tobego
  • Tuvalu
  • Vietnam

 

The following nations were previously carded but have made credible progress in improving their fisheries governance and combatting IUU, and have subsequently been removed from the EC’s IUU watch list:

  • Belize
  • Curacao
  • Fiji
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Panama
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Philippines
  • Solomon Islands
  • South Korea
  • Sri Lanka
  • Togo
  • Vanuatu

 

For further details about the European Commission’s anti-IUU fishing program, please see the Commission’s news page.

Assessing Human Rights Risks and Measuring Social Performance: Emergent Tools for Companies

Created on Friday, 06 October 2017

The seafood sector faces increasing pressure to prevent human rights and labor abuses within industry supply chains. As companies turn their attention to strengthening their policies and practices, emerging tools can help companies assess risk and measure social performance. This blog highlights five examples of useful tools currently offered for businesses. Some are available publicly, while others are add-on modules connected to existing certification schemes.

These tools compliment the long standing efforts and expertise of certifications such as Fair Trade USA, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, Global Aquaculture Alliance, and Seafish’s Responsible Fishing Scheme. These certifications all incorporate social responsibility elements within their programs, and often involve risk assessment procedures and performance measurements to assess human and labor rights conditions. Risk assessments within certification programs help businesses understand what is occurring on the ground at a fishery or farm level or at a processing facility that is within the scope of the certificate. In this way, certifications with social components themselves serve as tools for understanding risk and social performance.

We encourage you to explore each of the tools below. Each link provides a deep dive into the resource. You will gain answers to questions including:

  • What is the tool?
  • How does it work?
  • What benefits does it offer companies?
  • How does it apply to seafood?
  • How can companies get involved with the tool?

 

The tools highlighted are examples of existing tools. For a comprehensive list of social responsibility resources, visit Seafish’s Tools for Ethical Seafood Sourcing (TESS). This blog is intended to inform seafood stakeholders about human rights related risk assessment tools, social performance measures, and the benefits these tools can offer the industry.

Publicly Available Tools:

The Human Rights Risk Tool for Seafood (HRRTS), developed through a partnership between Seafish, the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, Liberty Asia, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch identifies and assesses the risk of human rights abuses in fisheries worldwide. Specifically, the tool analyzes the risk of forced labor, slavery, and child labor occurring in selected fisheries around the world. It provides fishery profiles indicating risk ratings of human rights abuses by both country and fishery. The HRRTS has been in development since 2016, and a website currently is being established to house the tool and database. The HRRTS will ultimately be an open access tool, available publicly online at no cost to users.

The Slavery and Trafficking Risk Template (STRT) (formerly known as the Human Trafficking Risk Template) is a free, open-source, industry standard template used to assist companies in their compliance, due diligence, and reporting efforts related to anti-human trafficking and slavery. The STRT was developed in response to companies’ requests for a tool to collect and share slavery and human trafficking related data across supply chains. As a risk screening tool, it assists companies seeking to gain visibility into their suppliers’ exposure to slavery and human trafficking risks and understand how well suppliers are controlling for this risk through their policies, practices, and procedures.

Additional Tools:

GLOBALG.A.P. Risk Assessment on Social Practice (GRASP) is an add-on module developed to assess social practices on farms and address specific aspects of workers’ health, safety, and welfare. GRASP is designed to produce information on the level of risk a producer faces in regards to best practices and objectives for social responsibility categories. It is structured as an add-on to the GLOBALG.A.P. standard offering producers more opportunity to emphasize continuous improvements and progress rather than capacity to meet pass/fail criteria. The assessment outcome identifies and reports on the level of risk the producer has in regards to these categories.

The Labor Safe Screen is a fee-for-service software, developed by the Sustainability Incubator, that companies can use internally to build social accountability into their products’ supply chains. Large food companies can use this tool to screen products for risk of forced or child labor and reduce risk where indicated by adopting verifiable practices. Beyond traceability, the Labor Safe Screen is an interactive improvement program where suppliers may lower a product’s labor risk in a number of concrete ways.

Social Accountability International’s Social Fingerprint program helps companies measure and continually improve their social performance, and can be used to complement any social standard or code. Applicable across industries and countries, SAI customizes Social Fingerprint for the specific needs of each actor in the supply chain, helping them to effectively measure and improve their management system for social performance. Companies can use Social Fingerprint in a variety of ways, including capacity building, risk assessment, and supply chain segmentation.

Introducing SALT: A global alliance for sustainable fisheries

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FishWise, Walton Family Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

Search “farm to table” online and it is likely you’ll see recommended restaurants in your area. Or maybe  places where you can buy local meat and produce straight from the source. Whether out of a concern for the environment or wanting to support their local producers, consumers want to know where their food comes from. In a massive global food economy, these bits of information tell a story, allowing you to trace your dinner’s path.

But what if a product’s story is not as simple as locally-grown produce? What about food whose path touches multiple countries, even multiple continents? This is the case with seafood, the most traded food commodity in the world. Your salmon fillet may have crossed four international lines on its way to your plate across a complex web of production. And the challenge of knowing where your fish came from can also enable illegal activity like human trafficking and damaging fishing practices.

It’s estimated that up to 30 percent of global fishing catch comes from illegal sources, costing the global economy up to $23 billion annually. Law-breaking vessels can be associated with organized crime, forced labor and human trafficking. To make matters worse, misidentified fish—the type, where and when they were caught, and what gear was used to catch them—can happen at almost every step of the supply chain.

While grocery retailers, foodservice companies, and their suppliers in the U.S. and Europe have made tremendous progress in recent years, their work can be undermined by bad actors seeking an advantage in the marketplace.

In the battle to combat illegal fishing, traceability is becoming a powerful weapon. Great work is being done around the world to hone this tool. In Chile, fishers and government are working together to achieve Marine Stewardship Council certification, a well-known eco-certification that includes its own traceability standards. Indonesia became the first country to publicly release its vessel monitoring system data, meaning anyone can see where boats are fishing in Indonesian waters. Peru has decided to release its data as well. While these are promising examples, there is the need to scale solutions to address the enormity of the problem.

The good news is that a new partnership among the conservation NGO FishWise, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Walton Family Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation brings together diverse stakeholders from around the world to collaborate on novel solutions to this complex problem.

The Seafood Alliance for Legality and Traceability (SALT) is an initiative to strengthen sustainable fisheries management by engaging a vast network of participants, including countries that produce and consume seafood, the seafood industry and other stakeholders seeking to advance responsible seafood production and marine conservation. FishWise will implement the project and brings deep expertise in traceability, human rights, business engagement and convening diverse groups.

SALT will convene sustainable seafood stakeholders from around the world to share their traceability projects and stories in order to learn from each other and identify the challenges best addressed through collaboration. One story about technology from South America could catalyze ideas for improvement in Southeast Asia. Partnerships could spark innovation. With this knowledge exchange, we can slowly pull apart the complexity of seafood supply chains and paint a clearer picture of what traceability success and effective management look like.

It is our collective hope that SALT will transform how seafood industry supply chains collect and transmit data about the fish they source and sell. We seek novel and appropriate ways to use that data to support the work of fishery managers and aquaculture producers—all in an effort to achieve more well-managed, sustainable fisheries around the world.

Without collaboration among restaurants, farmers and consumers, the farm to table movement would not have swept throughout the American food economy, revolutionizing the way some people think about food. It took stakeholders coming together to decide what works best for farmers, the foodservice industry, and the communities they cater to.

With the complexity of seafood traceability, collaboration is key. We hope that SALT will be an important step forward in that effort. When everyone involved in the seafood industry comes together, they can identify solutions that will work for the fishermen who catches the fish to the consumer who buys it. A simple idea like local, traceable produce led to scalable solutions, and with the right means, global seafood sustainability is also possible.

To learn more about SALT and register your interest as a stakeholder, please visit www.fishwise.org/salt.

Recap of Worldwide Tuna Conference In Vigo

Created on Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The 2017 Worldwide Tuna Conference was held September 11-12 in Vigo, Spain. The conference is a biannual gathering of business leaders from the tuna industry to discuss the most pressing issues facing global tuna markets. Speakers at the conference included representatives from Thai Union, Tri Marine, Albacora, Groupo Calvo, Bolton Alimentari, Conservas Garavilla, and many other major companies in the tuna industry.

Project director Kathleen Mullen-Ley represented FishWise at the conference. Kathleen leads FishWise’s work with retailers to improve the environmental sustainability of their shelf-stable tuna products. Her main goals for the conference were to learn about the conditions and pressures in the European tuna supply chains market that have led to successful retailer sustainable tuna programs in the EU, and to network with tuna industry veterans.

This being an industry conference, a hot topic of discussion was price. Historically, retailers marked down the prices of canned tuna products as a way to draw customers into the store to buy other, more expensive products. This has had its intended effect of creating the expectation from consumers that canned tuna is cheap. In reality, there are growing costs associated with producing canned tuna, including raw material costs, labor, transportation, processing, etc.

In order to address this problem, Luciano Pirovano from Bolton Alimentari (an Italian canned tuna manufacturer) recommended that tuna companies put more effort into creating more value. Tools to increase value include better point of sale marketing materials (e.g. a more attractive shelf, in-store events), product innovation (e.g. new flavors or formats), communication (e.g. calling attention to tuna’s health benefits), and sustainability (e.g. establishing time-bound sustainability commitments, adding sustainability information to packaging and marketing materials). To summarize his recommendations, he gave with three words to remember: inspiration, innovation, and reputation.

Other speakers at the conference stressed the importance of educating consumers so they understand that tuna is a limited natural resource.

Also relevant to FishWise’s work with retailers in the U.S. were panel presentations about canned tuna market trends in Europe. In a panel titled, “How to compete in the worldwide market for canned tuna: Europe,” Alberto Encinas from Grupo Calvo (a Spainish canned tuna manufacturer) pointed to some interesting trends in Europe that are also present in the U.S., including an aging population, market concentration in retail (i.e. mergers and acquisitions), an increase in ‘white brands’ (i.e. private label brands), and an increasing focus from consumers on wellness and sustainability.

Mariano Rodriguez from Carrefour, a massive EU retailer with ~12,000 stores in 30 countries, stressed that consumers are paying more attention to products’ origins, and that claims like ‘locally sourced’ and ‘sustainably caught’ must be backed with traceability information.

Another interesting topic of discussion was what to do about at-sea transshipment. Interestingly, the general consensus among companies in the room was that the practice of at-sea transshipment should be banned for all gear types in order to fight IUU fishing. This recommendation was explicitly given in a presentation by PEVASA (a company that owns fishing vessels in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans), and it was echoed by other companies during the conference.

The companies at the tabling event were primarily showcasing new technology and products to improve tuna supply chains. Marine Instruments unveiled the TunaDrone, which is a drone used to locate schools of free school tuna. A technology start-up called Bitcliq answered questions about their Big Eye Smart Fishing software, which offers an electronic interoperable traceability technology solution for companies. Big Eye Smart Fishing has earned Bitcliq a spot as a finalist in the current Fish 2.0 competition.

To learn more about the 2017 Worldwide Tuna conference, visit the website:

https://www.bcongresos.com/congresos/tuna2017/en/

Sharing traceability system insights

Created on Tuesday, 05 September 2017

Traceability is a powerful tool for suppliers and consumers alike, so why isn’t it more widespread?

To answer this question, we set out to better understand the challenges that keep seafood supply chains from adopting full-chain traceability.

We’re proud to announce that our findings have been published in the August 2017 issue of the Journal of Food Science, alongside parallel research from our partners in the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Ocean and Seafood Markets Initiative (OSMI): Future of Fish, the Global Food Traceability Center (GFTC), and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Through a series of articles, we lay out the challenges posed by technology tools, specifically the current lack of interoperability between systems. The articles also highlight the opportunities that traceability presents for business, environment, and government, including consumer safety and market differentiation. Our work lays a foundation upon which we can address these challenges and move the seafood sector toward greater traceability adoption.

Click here to learn more about the OSMI partnership.

Welcome Michelle Beritzhoff-Law

Created on Friday, 25 August 2017

Hi FishWise Readers!

I am Michelle Beritzhoff-Law and I joined the FishWise team in August 2017 as a Project Director in the Retail Division.

I grew up in Los Gatos and spent a lot of my childhood in the ocean around Santa Cruz. I’ve been keen on marine science, and particularly fish, since an elementary school field trip to the San Francisco bay. Being on the water, looking at array of fish and plankton was amazing and I was instantly hooked.

Prior to joining FishWise I was an Auditor at MRAG Americas, where I learned more about the seafood supply chain and traceability. I worked for New Zealand’s Ministry of Fisheries and Ministry for Primary Industries, within their respective fisheries science and fisheries management teams and spent some time at sea as an observer. I have a BS in Aquatic Biology from UC Santa Barbara, and an MS in Marine Science from University of Otago in New Zealand. Through my career I’ve developed a passion for fisheries management, working with stakeholders, and developing pragmatic solutions.

I am excited to join the talented team at FishWise and look forward to working with retailers and the wider seafood industry to progress sustainable seafood solutions.

Welcome Arne Croce!

Created on Tuesday, 08 August 2017

Hi FishWise Readers!

I am Arne Croce and I joined the FishWise team in July 2017 as Chief Financial Officer. I was attracted to the organization by the compelling role we play in developing a seafood industry that is environmentally sustainable and socially responsible.

As a Santa Cruz native, I have long had a love for the sea and have fond memories of summer days on local beaches. My seafood experience is two-fold: my father was an avid fisherman and took me on many trips on the ocean and to rivers (at age 10 I caught a 25 lb. Striped Bass!); in high school, I worked as a “pearl diver” (dishwasher!) at a restaurant on the Santa Cruz Wharf.

Prior to joining FishWise I served as executive director of Peninsula Family Service, a human services nonprofit serving low income children, adults, and families on the San Francisco Peninsula. Before transitioning to the nonprofit sector, I had a full career in local government serving as city manager for the cities of San Mateo and Los Altos. I have a master’s degree in Public Administration from California State University Sacramento and a BA in Political Science from University of California Berkeley-Go Bears!

After many years away my wife Carol and I decided it was time to move back to Santa Cruz. We have two adult children and are expecting our first grandchild in September-very exciting! We enjoy travel-our most recent trip was to Scotland where we walked about 50 miles of the Rob Roy Way.

Welcome Leslie Howitt!

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Hello FishWise readers!

I’m Leslie Howitt, and I am very excited to have joined the FishWise team as the Data Project Assistant. I will be working with the Data Team and assisting the rest of FishWise with all of their data needs.

I grew up on the shores of Lake Ontario, and spent as much time as possible in or on the water. On a trip to Acadia National Park when I was 8, I encountered tide pools for the first time. I was mesmerized by the life in these tiny puddles, and became interested in what else lay beneath the ocean’s surface.

I went to Brown University, where I earned a BS in ecology and evolution biology, and Plymouth University in England, where I earned a Masters in Research in marine biology. At both institutions, my research focused on subtidal invertebrates. It wasn’t until I started working at Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch that I began to apply my marine biology experience to fisheries and the field of sustainable seafood.  I look forward to applying the knowledge I gained from Seafood Watch activities to my new position at FishWise.

In my free time, I like to rock-climb, play ultimate Frisbee, surf, read, hike, scuba dive, and bike.

Welcome Michael Abowd!

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Michael joined FishWise as our Data Project Manager, focusing on evolving our custom database applications and reporting tools. He wasn’t always this nerd-like though. The intersection of music and computers fueled what became an infectious career that could only be explained as a fluke.  As a musician, he was an early adopter of the audio software technology, and passionate about reporting software bugs to the manufacturer which eventually got him hired as the Pro Tools audio software Support Manager at AVID Technology.  That’s where he developed his business application and database knowledge which led to him serving as their Global IT Director, overseeing 44 locations around the world. Later, he and his wife relocated to Santa Cruz full-time where he has been assisting various companies like CCOF and Universal Audio with their IT-related projects.

His love of the ocean began with surfing but didn’t really take hold until he witnessed the success of the Monterey Bay becoming a sanctuary.  In the beginning, he never saw whales, dolphin, or otters where they are all common sights today. The transformation was an amazing and powerful example of what a mind shift, backed by action, can do. Enter FishWise!