Sustainable seafood experts and stakeholders from over 23 countries recently gathered at the 2015 World Seafood Congress in Grimsby, UK to discuss developments in the fishing industry. The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Upskilling for a Sustainable Future’ and brought together international attendees from the seafood industry, NGOs, academia, and government to explore various issues in seafood trade, innovation, and sustainability.
One featured topic at the Congress was seafood ethics, including the social challenges that exist in our seafood supply chains. FishWise’s Traceability Division Director Mariah Boyle addressed the urgent issue of human rights abuses in the fishing industry with a presentation on protecting labor rights. Mariah highlighted the actions companies can take to reduce the risk of sourcing products associated with these abuses:
• Increase transparency in their supply chains
• Maintain direct communication regarding concerns of labor violations with their vendors
• Provide clear information about their products’ origins and the actions taken to guarantee products are not connected to human rights abuses, labor violations, or environmental damage with their customers.
Consumers have become more aware of these issues from recent prominent media coverage and have pushed for industry action through lawsuits against major corporations Costco and Nestlé, whose seafood products have been linked to forced labor. As daunting as the issues of human rights abuses seem, they are being addressed through efforts in the global fishing industry and progress is possible. In the United States, one positive step is the implementation of the CA Supply Chain Transparency Act, which requires large companies operating in California (with gross worldwide sales of over $100 million) to disclose their efforts to eliminate forced human labor and trafficking in their supply chains. The launch of the world’s first Fair Trade USA certified wild capture fishery is another step forward as the certification includes both social and environmental criteria.
One prominent attendee of the event was Benjamin Smith, Senior Officer for Corporate Social Responsibility at International Labour Organization (ILO), who spoke about ILO’s work in Thailand on the Good Labour Practices (GLP) Program. Other expert presenters on the topic of seafood ethics included Libby Woodhatch from Seafish, speaking on their new Responsible Fishing Scheme, independent ethics consultant Roger Plant, who presented on a new report on ethical issues impacting UK seafood supply chains, and the UK’s first Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Kevin Hyland. Roger concluded with the finding that the seafood industry needs a code of conduct on social responsibility.
2015 World Seafood Congress Group Picture - Photo Credit: Intrafish
The 2nd Annual Taste of the Sea Masquerade Ball is set to cast off at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, October 16th in Miami, FL. At this year’s Taste of the Sea you will savor the finest responsibly sourced seafood dishes created by South Florida’s all-star chefs and experience these Chef’s “Fish-Off” Challenge, with guests voting on their favorite chef’s seafood creation. Guests will enjoy delicious wine and spirits to complement each dish along with scrumptious desserts, music, raffles and an interactive conservation village.
Sponsored by Where Magazine, the 2nd Annual Taste of the Sea will take place from 6:30 – 11:00 p.m. at the tropical marina setting of Casablanca on the Bay located at 1717 North Bayshore Drive, Suite 200, Miami, FL 33132.
Taste of the Sea’s all-star chefs and restaurants include The Oceanaire Seafood Room, Piccolo Ristorante, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines’ Celebrity Chef, Latin House Grill, 180° @ the DRB, Casablanca on the Bay, Acentos & Paladares, Federacion Latinoamericana de Gastronomia (USA and PR Chapter), The Fish House, The Art Culinary Institute of Ft. Lauderdale, and International Executive Guest Chef Yanick Comeau of Yuzu Sushi and Mimi’s Ravioli and Yayi’s incredible desserts. Participating spirits include Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Wynwood Brewing Company, Casamigos Tequila and Alma Wines, among others.
In addition to sampling some of the finest responsibly sourced seafood sponsored by Sea Delight and Pier 33 Gourmet and spirits, Sea Delight Ocean Fund has brought together leaders in marine and ocean preservation for an incredible interactive and educational Conservation area, including the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), the Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC), the Coastal Steward, Universo Marino, University of Miami Shark Research program, and Shark Team One.
“We are thrilled to host our 2nd Annual Taste of the Sea seafood tasting event with the participation of South Florida’s finest chefs and restaurants and sponsored by Preferred Freezer Services, Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra, LLC, and international Where Magazine. Based on the success of our inaugural Taste of the Sea last year, It’s incredible to have the support again this year of these wonderful organizations focused on the health of our oceans alongside these gifted culinary masters,” noted Adriana Sanchez, Sustainability Director of Sea Delight and President of the Sea Delight Ocean Fund.
“We look forward to participating in Taste of the Sea and raising awareness of the importance of ocean conservation and the need for sustainable fisheries,” said Wendy Goyert, Senior Program Officer, World Wildlife Fund. “This event is a great opportunity to showcase efforts being made on the ground and in the water, to improve the sustainability of important fish stocks around the world.”
To purchase tickets click http://tiny.cc/5uye2x . Early Bird Ticket prices are $35.00 per person and Couple’s Tickets at just $60.00. Single tickets at the door $50.00 per person.
The Sea Delight Ocean Fund, is a local 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2012 to create and support global fishery improvement projects and better fishing practices initiatives that protect marine resources and promote conservation efforts globally. All proceeds from this event will help further marine conservation programs led by the Sea Delight Ocean Fund, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation and protection of our oceans.
Congratulations to FishWise partners Albertsons Companies, Hy-Vee, Sea Delight, and Santa Monica Seafood, and to SeaPact members Ipswich Shellfish Group and Seattle Fish Co. for their contribution in urging the U.S. Senate to pass S. 1334: Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing Enforcement Act of 2015.
In July 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 774: Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing Enforcement Act of 2015. H.R. 774’s companion bill, S. 1334, is currently awaiting a Senate vote. If the Senate passes the bill, it will then be sent to President Obama for final approval.
If passed into law, this bi-partisan legislation would combat IUU fishing activities by:
• Strengthening enforcement by building domestic capacity for monitoring and identifying IUU activities
• Creating stiffer penalties for vessels caught illegally fishing in U.S. waters
• Implementing the legislation needed for the U.S. to ratify the United Nations Port States Measures Agreement (PSMA)
The PSMA is an international treaty to close ports to foreign vessels engaged in IUU activities. The agreement will decrease the incentive for IUU fishing and help prevent illicitly caught seafood from entering legitimate seafood markets.
The U.S. Senate voted to approve the PSMA back in April 2014, but Congress still needs to pass implementing legislation before the U.S. can ratify the treaty. The treaty will enter into force once it has been ratified by 25 nations. Currently, 14 countries have ratified the PSMA.
To learn more about ways to address IUU fishing, visit the FishWise Traceability & IUU Fishing Resources page.
As we continue to advance our data systems for monitoring improvements in our partners’ seafood sourcing, FishWise sent Database Manager, Nat Robinson, to attend the annual FileMaker Developer’s Conference in Las Vegas, NV. Over 1,600 developers and FileMaker users attended the conference, with represented industries ranging from construction companies to state health organizations, and from environmental NGOs to global shipping firms. Developers were encouraged to network and share their stories with each other, as well as tips and tricks they’ve learned over the years. It was a smorgasbord of database geeks eager to learn.
After a sneak peek of the future FileMaker platform and a rousing opening ceremony, attendees settled into four days of seminars and demonstrations. Topics ranged from mobile and web application development, to user interface design, to the latest security protocols in the ever-changing information systems landscape. All in all, a great learning experience for Nat and the FishWise team as a whole. Look for great new data system improvements from FishWise in the coming year.
In 2013, Interpol launched Project Scale to address the growing concern among member countries of illegal fishing and related crimes. As part of the objective to identify and prevent fisheries crime, Project Scale recently conducted a study focusing on West Africa, where smaller fisheries are vulnerable to illegal fishing. The “Study on Fisheries Crime in the West African Coastal Region” describes regional efforts and obstacles to discouraging illegal fishing and provides recommendations for future actions.
As part of the study, the team reviewed publically available information and held a two-day workshop with stakeholders to discuss current efforts in national fisheries law, regional collaboration, and maritime security. Interpol also evaluated associated crimes that facilitate illegal fishing, such as corruption, customs fraud, and human trafficking, including these activities in the term ‘fisheries crime’.
Interpol also researched the link between illegal fishing and human trafficking. Due to a lack of law enforcement capacity on the water, the fishing sector can be vulnerable to human trafficking and forced labor. Working conditions on merchant ships are regulated by the international Port State Control Measures, but there is no equivalent directive for fishing vessels. The United National Convention on the Law of the Sea designates responsibility of fishing vessels to the country whose flag they fly. Whether activities on vessels are monitored depends on the country’s capacity and political will. Illegal fishers and traffickers selectively choose the countries that lack capacity or will to oversee vessel activities since their actions will often go overlooked. In West Africa, lack of capacity and awareness makes identifying, monitoring, and prosecuting human trafficking difficult.
Based on Project Scale’s findings, Interpol released the following key recommendations for West African member countries to address fisheries crime:
- Reinforce cooperation and coordination between law enforcement agencies.
- Encourage information sharing among countries, such as capacity building efforts, vessel monitoring systems, and other surveillance data to improve efficiency and law enforcement response. Due to the transnational nature of fisheries crime and links to other criminal activities such as human trafficking, relevant authorities should coordinate efforts to improve efficiency and create a combined response.
- Increase awareness that some types of illegal fishing are forms of transnational and organized crimes.
- Support member countries and other organizations in updating Interpol notices in criminal fishing activities and suspected vessels. Provide investigative support and capacity building to Interpol member countries’ fisheries enforcement operations.
- Increase transparency in fishing license and vessel registry procedures through establishing a competent authority able to provide timely verifications while adhering to international regulations. Recommendations on how to improve fairness in fisheries authorities include:
- Work with other member countries and appropriate entities to develop best practices for licensing and elements of valid licenses.
- Make all fisheries legislations publicly available so that identifying violations is more straightforward.
- Increase transparency on the roles of anti-corruption units and encourage their use in fisheries authorities to address bribery and similar improprieties.
To download the full report, visit the Interpol Environmental Crime Resource page.
To learn more about IUU fishing, visit the FishWise Traceability & IUU Fishing Resources page. To learn more about human trafficking within the fishing industry, visit the FishWise Human Rights Resources Page.