PACIFICAL launches Social Guidelines for Its MSC Tuna Fisheries

Pacifical cv has launched today its Social Accountability Guidelines for all vessels involved in its MSC certified sustainable tuna fishery. The new guidelines are unique as it covers over 300 industrial fishing and transport vessels from more than 10 different nations, working in one of world’s most complex and extensive seafood supply chains. The aim behind this initiative is to safeguard the welfare of the over 5,000 crew members living on board these vessels, which fish and distribute tuna in the remote waters of PNA Pacific Island Nations.

Purse seiner vessels fishing in the PNA waters for skipjack and yellowfin, and carrier boats transporting these tuna from transshipment ports in the region to processing centers, are operating in an area with a surface 40% larger than the United States. This means that crew members, often from countries like Kiribati, PNG, Indonesia, the Philippines, and China are on board these industrial vessels for very long periods of time, and usually spend limited time on land or with their families.

Working on board purse seine fishing vessels is very different to being employed in other sectors. Even on the newest and most technologically advanced purse seiners, fishing is physically demanding and not exempt of risks.

The multi-jurisdictional nature of fishing as well as the use of a commonly mixed nationality crew, adds a layer of complexity to the already difficult task of ensuring socially responsible employment standards are being sustained at sea.

The absence of any binding legal instrument, specifically formulated to ensure fair labor practices in the global fishing industry, which applies to all flag states (and the commercial fishing vessels under those flags), remains a challenging obstacle to the enforcement of workers’ rights at sea. Pacifical has therefore developed these Social Accountability Guidelines to protect the rights of fishermen and ensure that they have decent, safe and meaningful employment on board fishing vessels.

“There is no sustainably managed fishery without the people who participate in it. We are excited to introduce our Social Accountability Guidelines, ensuring to millions of worldwide buyers of MSC certified tuna carrying the Pacifical logo, that not only are these products in line with the strictest ocean ecosystem conservation certification scheme, but also that the fishermen behind their MSC tuna products, are being treated fairly and according to a social guideline that safeguards their welfare.” – Maurice Brownjohn, PNA Commercial Director.

These guidelines outline minimum requirements related to the employment; social protection, health and safety, food, accommodation, and medical care of fishermen at sea. The provisions of the Pacifical Guidelines are consistent with relevant international labor standards, such as the ILO Convention concerning work in the fishing sector (C188) and FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

These Social Accountability Guidelines are guided by:

  • Decent Jobs – personal development and social integration
  • Integrity and Fairness
  • Health and Safety
  • Traceability and Access to Information
  • Transparency

Pacifical seeks to urge all vessel owners involved in the PNA MSC fisheries to start implementing these guidelines.