tuna human rights abuses

BLOOM in collaboration with Harvard Law School have produced a new report called “Canned Brutality: Human Rights Abuses in the Tuna Industry”

The Marine Stewardship Council has responded to Association BLOOM’s report entitled “Canned Brutality: Human Rights Abuses in the Tuna Industry”, calling it misleading.

In the report, BLOOM claimed that “that human rights abuses are pervasive in the tuna industry” and criticised the Marine Stewardship Council for giving tuna producers the blue label for sustainability while ignoring human rights abuses onboard these companies tuna fishing boats claiming, “The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification scheme, which is one of the most widely used, is also one of the worst-performing when it comes to human rights accountability.”

BLOOM has also previously accused the Marine Stewardship Council of hypocrisy over the labelling of sustainable fish caught by bottom-trawling and dredging.

Responding to the allegations from BLOOM, the MSC stated:

“The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) sets voluntary standards for the ecological sustainability of fisheries. It is therefore misleading to assess the MSC, an environmental standard-setting organisation, against social welfare criteria.

The focus of our certification and labelling scheme is tackling the enormous challenge of overfishing, in the context of over a third of the world’s fish stocks being fished beyond their sustainable limits.  Making progress in this will deliver not just ecological, but also economic, benefits as many communities around the world rely on fishing for their livelihoods.   

Our current requirements on labour are not insignificant and are aimed at tackling egregious forms of forced or child labour while also facilitating greater knowledge and transparency on how to address these abhorrent practices.  Any entity convicted of forced or child labour violations is ineligible for MSC certification for at least two years.  All MSC-certified fisheries and at-sea supply chain businesses must publish their policy and practices to mitigate egregious labour abuses on the MSC’s website. These disclosures, summarised in a recent peer reviewed paper in Marine Policy, provide much needed transparency on the measures taken by fisheries representing a sixth of the world’s wild marine catch. Additionally, companies that undertake the processing and packing of certified seafood must undergo a third-party labour audit or submit a self-assessment report and allow us to commission independent labour audits. Furthermore, in October 2022, we introduced new requirements which mean that entities involved in unacceptable conduct, inclusive of mistreatment of crew and fisheries observers, must be removed from MSC certificates.” 

We strongly reject the suggestion that our certification process – which is underpinned by independent assessments and reviews – is inadequate for assessing environmental performance. The MSC’s programme consistently outperforms other certification schemes on ensuring the ecological sustainability of wild caught seafood.

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