Forced and child labour

The MSC condemns forced and child labour and supports global efforts to eradicate it in fisheries and seafood supply chains.

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

The MSC standards are focused on fisheries' environmental performance and sustainability and seafood supply chain assurance. However, we share the widespread concerns regarding social issues in the seafood industry and are working with other organisations to find practical solutions.

We continuously improve our program, including incorporating third party labour auditing schemes and introducing transparency measures.

 

What has the MSC done about forced labour?

We introduced our first labour policy in 2014. Following multi-stakeholder consultations with more than 300 organisations between 2016-2018, we introduced  further requirements for MSC certified businesses.

These requirements provide seafood buyers and consumers with greater assurance that companies involved in processing and packing MSC and ASC certified seafood are not involved in forced or child labour. Next year we will publish the MSC Labour Policy and Procedures, which will consolidate all our labour policies into a single document.

Labour practices at sea

To improve transparency in the seafood industry, all MSC certified fisheries and at-sea supply chain businesses have to make public their policy and practice to mitigate egregious labour abuse. As a result of the MSC program, fisheries representing nearly a fifth of the worlds wild marine catch are reporting on their labour policies and the measures they take to prevent forced and child labour, many for the first time.

Any fishing vessel that has been convicted of forced or child labour violations is ineligible for MSC certification for at least two years.

Reports for every MSC certified fishery can be found on Track a Fishery. 

Labour practices in supply chains

Certified supply chain businesses must undergo an independent third-party labour audit, or submit a self-assessment report to MSC and allow MSC to potentially commission its own independent audit. Currently business whose operations are entirely in countries deemed at low risk for forced labour are exempt, but it is proposed that in 2022 these requirements will apply to all supply chain businesses.

Research on labour practices in certified fisheries

In 2022, MSC researchers reviewed the mechanisms present to mitigate forced and child labour in marine fisheries, using data from every fishery certified to the MSC Fisheries Standard as at 2020. 

Read about the research

Further improvements

We are continuing to work with other organisations addressing human and labour rights issues within the seafood industry.

To better ensure the absence of egregious labour practices from certified businesses, we have established a separate Social Policy team that is carrying out a Labour Policy Review. In 2023, we propose to add eligibility criteria to our Labour Policy and Procedures, making clear the practices that automatically exclude a business from becoming certified.

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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