By Emma Desrochers
A new, accredited third-party certification program, Fairness, Integrity, Safety, and Health (FISH) Standard for Crew, has announced three fishing fleets have become the first organizations to complete the FISH standard audits.
NovaNam (Pty) Ltd., a Namibian-based subsidiary of Nueva Pescanova Group; the At-Sea Processors Association (APA), representing the U.S. flagged Alaskan pollock catcher-processors; and Papua New Guinea's Fishing Industry Association (FIA-PNG).
FISH Standard for Crew is an accredited, global, third-party certification program providing assurances that labor practices on vessels in certified wild-capture fisheries are using ethical labor practices and provide proper treatment of crews. The highest level of the standard includes adherence to four major principles: socially responsible labor practices and ethical behaviors, establishment of fair conditions of service for all fishers, assurances of the safety and health of all fishers, and the provision of decent accommodations, water, and food.
"I am truly excited about the geographical, operational, and organizational diversity of the fleets that have come forward for the first FISH audits," FISH Standard for Crew Executive Director Mike Kraft said in a press release. “These audits were originally planned for 2021, but the ongoing pandemic prevented auditor travel and limited access to quarantined crews. Having auditors on the vessel and performing in-person crew interviews is critical to the credibility of the process and FISH Standard.”
Each fleet includes a different number of vessel reviews. The review for NovaNam covers nine deep-sea trawlers in Namibia; the APA review represents 15 catcher-processor vessels operating out of Seattle, Washington, U.S.A., and FIA-PNG previously announced it is pursuing FISH certification for 32 purse-seiners based in Papua New Guinea.
To achieve the certification, the third-party audits were performed by Bureau Veritas, MRAG Americas, and SGS auditors. These audits for FISH included onsite vessel inspections and in-person crew interviews in addition to policy procedure, and review. Final reports and results are being completed for all three fleets.
“FIA PNG is taking the lead in the PNA region by engaging in this type of certification to demonstrate that our fleet complies with the ILO conventions, human rights declaration, and auditing requirements. It is a good example to be followed for other tuna fleets and chose FISH Standard for Crew welfare certification,” FIA-PNG Sustainability Director Marcelo Hidalgo told SeafoodSource.
FISH Standard for Crew also recently announced the Iceland Responsible Fisheries Foundation (IRFF) and Phoenix Processor Limited Partnership of Seattle, Washington, U.S.A., have initiated the certification process and have third-party audits upcoming in the coming months.
“We believe FISH can serve as one of the tools to help ensure fishers are treated fairly and responsibly, and give harvesters a way to demonstrate that commitment to their stakeholders,” FISH Standard Board Chair and Brim Chief Human Resources Officer Fridrik Fridriksson said. “Focus on the responsible treatment of workers is only increasing and stakeholders expect that seafood not only offer environmentally, sustainable sources, but socially responsible ones as well.”
The FISH Standard for Crew has been criticized by the Seafood Working Group, a global coalition of human rights, labor and environmental organizations. The group said in 2021 the standard possesses “significant weaknesses in design, application, and monitoring” and “will not provide buyers with credible assurances that the fishers who produce their seafood are treated fairly or have safe and decent conditions of work.”
Photo courtesy of NOAA Fisheries