Forced and child labour

The MSC condemns forced and child labour and supports global efforts towards the eradication of forced and child labour in fisheries and seafood supply chains.

Forced and child labour is an industry-wide issue with no quick or easy solution.

The MSC standards themselves remain solely focussed on environmental performance, sustainability and traceability of wild captured seafood. However, we recognise the widespread concerns regarding social issues and continue to engage with other organisations working to find practical solutions to this problem.

We are continuously improving our program and have taken steps to incorporate existing labour auditing schemes and transparency measures into our programs.

What has the MSC done about forced labour?

In 2014, the MSC Board made a commitment to include a clear policy on forced labour and entities prosecuted for forced labour violations in the previous two years are excluded from the MSC program. To further develop our requirements and reduce the risk of forced or child labour in the supply chain, the MSC held multi-stakeholder consultations with more than 300 organisations between 2016-2018. This led to the introduction of two further requirements:

Labour practices at sea

In August 2018, we introduced new requirements to provide transparency of labour practices at sea

All MSC certified fisheries and at-sea supply chains are now required to report publicly on the measures they are taking to address forced and child labour. These statements can be found on Track a Fishery. 

Labour practices in supply chains

In March 2019, the MSC introduced labour auditing for MSC certified seafood supply chains. 

All Chain of Custody certificate holders may have to undergo independent labour audits depending on the country and activity-based risk scoring tools. These globally recognised, commonly used tools were selected following a multi-stakeholder consultation process.

This requirement will provide seafood buyers and consumers with greater assurances that companies involved in the processing and packing MSC and ASC certified seafood are not involved in forced or child labour.

Please read our summary of changes for more information

Further improvements

In February 2020, the MSC Board reiterated its direction for MSC to continue to work with others that are engaged in trying to develop measures and approaches which are outside the scope of MSC’s environmental programme, to address human and labour rights issues within the seafood industry.

An area being investigated with expert organisations is that of grievance mechanisms, aimed at giving workers greater redress against labour violations. MSC’s engagement in this work is in the early stages. Many organisations have been actively investigating establishing such mechanisms which would strengthen workers’ protection, if widely adopted internationally, across the entire sustainable seafood industry. MSC is also examining how we can develop a Policy of Association which would ensure that organisations which don’t meet that policy would not be eligible for MSC certification.

More about our work

Our approach

Our approach

Our approach means everyone can play a part in that future while enjoying fish and seafood, not avoiding them.

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At-sea monitoring and surveillance

At-sea monitoring and surveillance

The collection of high-quality data on fishing activities, which has been recorded at sea, is a key part of effective fishery management.

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Our collective impact

Our collective impact

For over 20 years fisheries, scientists, consumers and industry have been part of a collective effort to make sure our oceans are fished sustainably.

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