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GAA Executive Director Wally Stevens. (Photo: GAA)

GAA takes a stand to prevent labour abuse in shrimp supply chain

  (WORLDWIDE, 12/16/2015)

The Global Aquaculture Alliance's Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) third-party certification programme has taken a stand against child labour and forced labour in the shrimp supply chain by prohibiting BAP-certified processing plants from outsourcing the processing of shrimp to third-party entities. The prohibition will take effect 1 January 2016.

The decision to prohibit the practice follows reports of child labour and forced labour in the shrimp supply chain, specifically at peeling and heading “sheds.” A shed refers to a seasonal, temporary processing plant that operates independently and is unregistered and unlicensed. Licensed facilities that operate as part of a larger processing plant are not included in the prohibition.

“Our experience over many years with farmed shrimp is that most of the peeling and heading of shrimp is conducted at well run processing facilities, and it is only during infrequent periods of peak supply from farms that outsourcing takes place. The current BAP processing plant standards require facilities that outsource their peeling or heading operations to maintain appropriate controls over the environmental, social and food-safety practices of those outsourced operations. But obviously it would be far better if these processing steps were conducted in-house,” said GAA Executive Director Wally Stevens. “Accordingly, we will prohibit BAP-certified facilities from outsourcing their peeling and heading operations, effective 1 January 2016.”

GAA highlights that it takes very seriously allegations of child labour and forced labour in the seafood supply chain, and allegations of non-compliance can trigger an unannounced audit, in addition to routine annual audits. Since its inception in 1997, GAA has proactively addressed issues such as social justice by working with stakeholders to find practical solutions that can be implemented effectively and continuously improved over time.

As social justice is one of the pillars of GAA's responsible aquaculture program, BAP-certified processing plants, farms, hatcheries and feed mills are required to meet standards for adequate wages, a safe and healthy working environment and prevention of child labour and forced labour. The BAP programme is based on third-party audits by independent certification bodies to ensure compliance with the BAP standards.

However, GAA believes that the prevention of child labour and forced labour can only be accomplished with the cooperation of all stakeholders -- industry, the marketplace, government and non-governmental players promoting labour rights.

Third-party certification programs like BAP are a key component of the solution, but the eradication of child labour and forced labour will not be achieved without the consistent enforcement of labour laws by local officials. 


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