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MSC Board announces clear policy on forced labour

The MSC Board has agreed to include a clear policy on the issue of forced labour within the future requirements of MSC certification.

Companies which have been successfully prosecuted for forced labour violations in the last two years will be out of scope of the MSC programme and will be ineligible for MSC certification.

For fisheries, this amendment will be included in the MSC fisheries certification requirements to be released in October.

For Chain of Custody certification, this addition has been incorporated into the revised Chain of Custody certification requirements, which will open for public consultation from 1 August as part of the Chain of Custody Programme Review.

Full statement from the MSC Board:

The Marine Stewardship Council is the leading marine ecolabelling charity and operates a rigorous science-based standard for environmentally sustainable fishing. The MSC standard does not include a requirement for the assessment of the social and employment conditions of fisheries and their supply chains although MSC will continue to engage with other standard setters wishing to develop social standards for fisheries and seafood supply chains.

However, MSC condemns the use of forced labour*. Companies successfully prosecuted for forced labour violations shall be ineligible for MSC certification. To ensure that a certification entity remains eligible for MSC certification with respect to forced labour violations, companies, fishery client group members and their subcontracted parties should ensure compliance with national and international laws on forced labour and follow relevant guidance where available.

* All work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily (International Labour Organisation Forced Labour Convention, 1930: Article 2 paragraph 1). This includes all unethical labour practices recognised under law as forced labour, including debt bondage, trafficking and other forms of modern slavery.