Investors zeroing in on aquaculture’s human rights performance

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The wellbeing and security of employees across the seafood supply chain is becoming a weightier consideration not only for investors considering supporting aquaculture but also for governments.

Regulations that will require companies to conduct due diligence to prevent human rights violations are in the works in the European Union, prompting the Global Seafood Alliance (GSA) to step up to help seafood operations navigate the changing landscape.

In Germany, for instance, companies are now obligated by law to adopt and implement due diligence procedures that identify risks, prevent, and mitigate human rights and select environmental violations, according to think-tank Business & Human Rights Centre.

This means that there is “a legal obligation for businesses to comply with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs),” it said.

But instead of going at it on their own when complying with the new requirments, seafood companies could rely on third-party auditing and certification programs.

GSA’s Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) and Best Seafood Practices (BSP) schemes aim to build consumer trust in seafood. The organization says it is partnering with workplace-standards specialist Amfori to retool the two programs in order to enhance their focus on, among others, ethical risks in seafood processing facilities, farm and vessel management and employee/crew welfare.

The two will also collaborate on designing resources and share learnings that will contribute to create competency in performance across their mutual programs and standards.

“Both organizations recognize that it’s becoming crucial that companies are accompanied in their due diligence journey with the right set of tools, available in a seamless way and avoiding duplication of efforts,” said GSA in announcing a Letter of Intent with Amfori on Tuesday.

These developments highlight a recent trend – that of human rights becoming an increasingly prominent consideration in the discussions of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG).

Among investors in aquaculture, the wellbeing and security of employees across the seafood supply chain is becoming a weightier consideration for them when considering aquaculture investments.

Catarina Martins, chief sustainability officer at Mowi, shared at a Seafood Sustainability Forum: “The social element, the human rights in our value chain, is also increasing in importance also from a regulatory perspective in the EU and in different countries. I think that we will see increasing in scope and in granularity, in due diligence processes, mitigation processes, etc.” The other trend she noted is the increased focus of investors on greenhouse gas emissions.