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FishWise and Experts Identify Solutions for Legal and Traceable Wild-Caught Fish Products

EPLAT FinalReport mediumThe Expert Panel on Legal and Traceable Wild Fish Products is a multi-disciplinary expert group convened to promote a global framework for ensuring the legality and traceability of all wild-caught fish products. Organized byWorld Wildlife Fund and facilitated by Resolve, Inc., the Panel was established in early 2013 to generate solutions to common challenges in establishing such a framework through complementary regulatory and private sector mechanisms.

Mariah Boyle, Traceability Division Director at FishWise, has been a part of the Panel since its inception in 2013. Over the last two years panelists have discussed many topics related to traceability and Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and have generated eight recommendations to ensure wild fish products are legal and traceable. Many of the recommendations are current areas of work for FishWise. We look forward to continue to work on strengthening information standards for wild-caught fish products, establishing a global record of fishing vessels, and improving verification and electronic traceability within supply chains.

Expert Panel Recommendations:

  1. Minimum information standards for wild-caught fish products should be adopted
  2. Authoritative data sources, including a global record as soon as possible
  3. A harmonized system of “landing authorizations” should be established to provide primary assurances of the legal origin
  4. Multiple points of verification should be added throughout seafood supply chains
  5. A transition to fully electronic traceability systems should be accomplished for all commercial wild fish products within the next five years
  6. Support and capacity building must be provided to those producers who will need help with the transition to electronic traceability systems, particularly SMEs and commercial fishers in developing countries
  7. A global architecture for interoperability systems should be developed
  8. Where applicable, non-discriminatory border measures setting minimum standards for seafood traceability and proof of legal origin should combat trade in IUU products while facilitating legitimate commerce through a “risk-based, tiered, and targeted” approach

The panelists will present their findings and answer questions during international webinar taking place Monday, March 30, at 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 pm EDT
.  An online registration for the event is at

At FishWise we believe that continued efforts to improve traceability will help businesses address the problems of IUU fishing and human rights abuses within seafood supply chains while improving brand value and ensuring a sustainable supply of seafood for future generations.

To download the full report:

The panelists have also issued a joint statement on the report (PDF).



2015 Seafood Summit Pre-Conference Traceability Workshop

As part of the 2015 Seafood Summit in New Orleans last month, FishWise helped to organize and moderate the pre-conference workshop “Exploring the Elements of Effective Seafood Traceability, Including Key Data Elements”. Over 80 people participated in the event, representing a diverse group of stakeholders from the seafood industry, including: retail, government, technology, and the conservation community. The workshop provided an opportunity for these groups to come together to discuss best practices for effective seafood traceability schemes, including the Recommendations by the Presidential Task Force on Combatting Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud, and a project by the Traceability Working Group of the National Fisheries Institute (NFI).

trace workshop2Photo: Devin Harvey

The objectives for the workshop were to: 1) create an environment for industry, NGOs and others to candidly share thoughts and comments on seafood traceability and ways to combat IUU fishing 2) discuss Task Force Recommendations #13, #14, and #15, and brainstorm implementation questions as a group and 3) solicit feedback regarding NFI’s Key Data Elements project.

Given the goals and structure of the workshop, this interactive session focused on broadly gathering ideas, rather than choosing or prioritizing. All contributions were welcomed.

FishWise would like to thank the workshop participants for their time and valuable contribution to the discussion, as well as SeaWeb for hosting the event. Many thanks to our co-moderator, Bill DiMento of High Liners Foods, and to the representatives from NOAA and the State Department for their attendance. FishWise looks forward to working with you more on these important issues, and finding collaborative ways to advance the discussion on seafood traceability.

For a detailed account of the workshop, download the Seafood Summit Traceability Workshop Summary.


Informative resources for seafood-related human rights issues

At the 2015 SeaWeb Seafood Summit plenary “Preventing Human Rights Abuses In Seafood Supply Chains”, six panelists spoke out about the complexity of human rights and labor abuses within the seafood industry and the inherent difficulties of addressing these issues throughout seafood supply chains.

The following publicly available resources expand upon the topics highlighted during the plenary and provide additional information about the issues and improvement efforts.

Is there a comprehensive overview of seafood-related human rights issues?

The FishWise white paper, Trafficked II summarizes human rights abuses in seafood supply chains. Trafficked II provides an overview of the issues and the major challenges to reform (corruption, lack of transparency, lack of enforcement, and the prevalence of illegal fishing). It explores how more than fifty international and regional government programs, certification systems, NGOs, companies, and industry groups are working on human and labor rights. Companies can use the recommended steps in this report to address human rights.

How are environmental and social issues linked within seafood supply chains?

The powerful Environmental Justice Foundation video and accompanying report, ‘Pirates & Slaves: How Overfishing in Thailand Fuels Human Trafficking and the Plundering of Our Oceans’, demonstrate the links between declining sustainability in fisheries, Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported (IUU) fishing and human rights abuses in Thai fisheries. EJF's first major investigation into human rights abuses at sea was in 2010 with a focus on West Africa. The 'All at Sea' video and report provide a good overview of how EJF’s work in this area began, and the urgent need for action.

What is human trafficking and where does it occur?

The U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons calculates scores that represent countries’ compliance with the U.S. Trafficking Protection Act (TVPA) and are reported annually in the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. The TIP report is the U.S. Government’s principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking. To learn more, download these fact sheets describing human trafficking and the intersectionbetween environmental degradation and human trafficking.

Do current efforts to audit social compliance aboard fishing vessels exist?

The Seafish Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS)is a voluntary vessel based program certifying high standards of crew welfare and responsible catching practices on all types of fishing vessels and fisheries. The RFS is the only global standard that audits compliance on board fishing vessels, including ethical and welfare criteria. Check out this video to learn how the RFS is designed to complement the existing standards in the fisheries and seafood supply chain.

Can environmental and social criteria be evaluated together?

Yes! In February, Safeway and Fair Trade USA announced a partnership to bring the first-ever Fair Trade Certified™ wild fish to the North American market. This is the first wild fish certification program to include both environmental and social benchmarks, ensuring that fishermen operate under internationally recognized fair working conditions, and that they must meet independently audited standards of environmental compliance. Learn why handline-caught yellowfin from the Maluku Island chain of Indonesia is so exiting for fishermen and consumers alike in this National Geographic article.

To learn more about FishWise’s work on human rights, please contact us.

FishWise examines human rights in seafood with North American and European eNGOs


Human rights have recently become a focal point in sustainable seafood conversations worldwide. Environmental non-governmental organizations (eNGOs) work closely with seafood companies to improve the environmental responsibility of their business practices. Human rights abuses found within seafood supply chains could undermine responsible seafood commitments and the excellent environmental improvements that are underway. Because eNGOs have longstanding and trusted relationships with their business partners, and because the social and environmental concerns associated with seafood are often interrelated, these companies frequently turn to their eNGO partners for expertise on social issues and to serve as a liaison with outside groups.

Human rights in seafood supply chains - what roles can environmental NGOs (eNGOs) play? (PDF), January 21st, 2015

In January of 2015, FishWise guided an interactive discussion to understand how eNGOs can address human rights abuses within the seafood industry by helping companies implement responsible business practices. Representatives from 15 eNGOs and philanthropic foundations gathered to learn about challenges that other eNGOs and their partners were facing and to share perspectives about how to more fully address both environmental sustainability and social considerations.

Download the meeting notes here.


FishWise convenes seafood-focused human rights meetings

FishWise recently organized a plenary and luncheon to facilitate collaboration among stakeholders working to address human rights and labor issues within different aspects of the seafood industry.

On February 10th, six panelists examined the complexity of such issues during the plenary “Preventing Human Rights Abuses In Seafood Supply Chains” at the SeaWeb Seafood Summit in New Orleans. The panel summarized the conditions that allow human rights abuses to persist in the seafood industry, discussed the difficulties in improving labor issues in seafood supply chains, and provided suggestions for companies looking to strengthen the social components of their purchasing agreements.

Next Steps to Address Human Rights Abuses in Seafood Supply Chains: Meeting Summary (PDF), February 10th, 2015

FishWise executive director Tobias Aguirre led the plenary on Preventing Human Rights Abuses in Seafood Supply Chains (Photo: Lucas Lee Graham, Boat Drink Llc.)

Following the plenary, Humanity United, the Freedom Fund, and FishWise co-hosted a multi-stakeholder meeting to discuss next steps to address human rights abuses in seafood supply chains. It was attended by representatives from the seafood industry that have expressed interest in improving human rights within sustainable seafood, as well as representatives from the conservation community, funders, and key members of government. Building on the momentum from the human rights plenary, participants shared observations and reflections, discussed two topics that have risen to the top of recent discussions (tools & resources and pre-competitive discussions), and worked in small groups to identify next steps that would help to address these important issues. Given the diversity of participants, this interactive session focused on broadly gathering ideas, rather than choosing or prioritizing.

Download the meeting notes here (PDF).