Human Rights Reporting for Fishing Businesses Under New Policy


CONTACT- Kat Bevington,

FORT COLLINS, Colorado — The sustainable seafood nonprofit FishChoice today announced a new policy that will make its website the most comprehensive source of information on the social performance of fishery improvement projects (FIPs). More than 1450 FIPs — about 95% of all FIPs worldwide — use FisheryProgress to report their progress toward mitigating environmental challenges. The new Human Rights and Social Responsibility Policy replaces a 2019 interim policy.

“Consumers need to know that the seafood they eat is caught in a way that protects both people and the planet,” said Kristin Sherwood, program director at FishChoice. “And businesses that buy and sell seafood need a way to provide assurances that they’re serious about social responsibility.”

FIPs bring businesses, conservation groups, governments, and other stakeholders together to address environmental and social challenges in a fishery, and use market power to incentivize sustainable improvements. FisheryProgress was developed to provide reliable information about FIP progress by consolidating reporting data, providing a common benchmark against which to measure progress, and offering third-party verification of progress reports.

The Human Rights and Social Responsibility Policy focuses first on the worst abuses, like human trafficking and forced labor. The policy requires every FIP reporting on FisheryProgress to take specific steps, like making efforts to inform fishers of their rights and publishing information on all vessels or fishers included in the FIP. FIPs that face higher risk because of situational factors, like a large migrant workforce or long trips at sea that mean workers can’t come ashore at least every 90 days, are required to complete a risk assessment, create an improvement workplan, and report publicly on their implementation of that plan.

“Conducting human rights due diligence is key to ensuring that the seafood Tesco sells is caught by fishers whose rights and safety are protected. FisheryProgress’ new Human Rights and Social Responsibility Policy is a major step forward in providing credible information about human rights risks in Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) and the actions FIPs are taking to address those risks,” said Andy Hickman, head of human rights—food and procurement at Tesco, the United Kingdom’s largest grocery chain. “This information will be an essential contribution to our due diligence efforts and enable us to support FIPs that are working to improve both their social and environmental performance.”

Reporting requirements under the new policy will be staggered, with some taking effect in November and others next May. This initial year will serve as a pilot period, during which FishChoice will evaluate both effectiveness and practicality. FishChoice will also offer FIPs intensive coaching and, where possible, financial support to FIPs that begin social progress reporting before the policy’s effective dates.

“FisheryProgress’ Human Rights and Social Responsibility policy sends a strong signal that the sustainable seafood organizations are taking carefully considered measures to safeguard the rights of fishers and workers,” said Cecilia Blasco, executive director of SmartFish, a Mexico-based nonprofit that operates several FIPs. “The final version of the policy strikes a good balance, reducing the risk of human rights violations without creating an excessive burden on FIP implementers.”

To inform the new policy, FishChoice engaged hundreds of stakeholders, including FIP implementers, seafood businesses, and human and labor rights experts, through a consultative process lasting two years. The policy is designed to dovetail with tools and resources developed by other sustainable seafood nonprofits, like Conservation International’s Social Responsibility Assessment Tool for the Seafood Sector and the FishWise Roadmap for Improving Seafood Ethics. FishChoice plans continued stakeholder engagement following the launch and an ongoing evaluation effort to inform a 2024 policy update.

“The Big Prawn Company only sells seafood that we have assessed to be environmentally sustainable and socially responsible, or engaged in a credible improvement process designed to reach those goals. We welcome the new FisheryProgress policy on human rights, because it will ensure FIPs are addressing human rights risks alongside environmental challenges,” said William Rash, managing director at The Big Prawn Company, a United Kingdom-based shellfish supplier. “We are committed to supporting the FIPs that we buy from to meet the policy requirements and report transparently on FisheryProgress. This information will make a significant contribution to our human rights due diligence efforts.”