In 2017, FAO member states approved the idea of voluntary guidance at a meeting of the FAO Committee on Fisheries Sub-Committee on Fish Trade. The process continued in 2018 when FAO received an official mandate to create the guidance. A year later, however, some non-EU governments questioned the voluntary nature of the guidance and/or the need for such a document. Since then, the process has been delayed, despite the clear value these guidelines could have provided for the wellbeing of fishers.
To address this deadlock, ETF, Europeche and Long Distance Advisory Council addressed a letter to FAO, urging the organisation to continue with the process of creating guidance on social responsibility in fish value chains.
The guidance was meant to provide social and safety voluntary standards for the millions of seafood workers around the globe by articulating core principles related to fair treatment, gender equity, child labour and workers’ rights.
The need for such guidance is especially clear in light of the proliferation of various certifications schemes that have started filling the gaps globally on social standards. The guidance on social responsibility in fish value chains could play an important role in this context, serving as a framework that could be used as a benchmarking tool for social standard schemes and certifiers and inform due diligence actions of companies. This would prevent the proliferation of social labels far from international standards, providing misleading claims to the consumer and address social responsibility issues that exist beyond social certification schemes.
The letter is available here.