Aquaculture North America

NOAA Fisheries announces initiative to end illegal labour practices in seafood industry

August 2, 2022
By Maryam Farag

NOAA Fisheries has announced a new public-private initiative; the Collaborative Accelerator for Lawful Maritime Conditions in Seafood (CALM-CS), which will promote legal and safe working conditions, including combating forced labour in the fishing and seafood industry.

In a recent National Security Memorandum on “Combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing and Associated Labor Abuses,” President Biden reinforced the commitment of the U.S. Government to fight labour abuses in the seafood sector. President Biden also called for agencies to increase their collaboration with non-governmental partners to develop comprehensive approaches to combat these conditions.

As a jumping-off point for this initiative, NOAA recently convened stakeholders at a collaborative summit—A Call to Action: Ending Forced Labor and Promoting Decent Work in the Seafood Sector. Senior officials from the Departments of Commerce, State, Labor, U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Agency for International Development met with representatives of businesses, humanitarian groups, and government agencies across the spectrum to discuss collaborative approaches to support decent working conditions in the seafood sector.

In reflections on the summit, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said, “By coming together to address illegal labor practices, we can have a positive impact on seafood industry workers and families around the world, and help ensure the stability of the broader seafood supply chain.”

In a statement, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator, Dr. Richard Spinrad said, “We hope that CALM-CS can leverage the urgency we all feel toward these issues and be just one part of the response to this call for action that is shared around the world.”

CALM-CS efforts will focus on five key strategic priorities:

  1. Identifying best practices for industry accountability and due diligence for decent working conditions throughout the seafood supply chain
  2. Exploring novel sources of information, and enhancing means to share and analyze that information, to better identify illegal and unsafe labor practices in fisheries
  3. Leveraging technology and supporting relevant organizations to reduce vulnerabilities of crew and observers to labor abuses at sea
  4. Exploring potential tools to enhance safety and labor conditions aboard U.S. vessels
  5. Supporting collaboration mechanisms across workers, governments, industry, and civil society to support workers within the seafood industry, including their ability to organize and access remediation and justice

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